Laurens Vanthoor will make his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Sebastien Loeb Racing, it was announced Monday.
The 22-year-old Belgian driver, who won the 2013 FIA GT Series championship, joins German Rene Rast in the team’s Oreca 03 Nissan, with the third pilot yet to be announced.
It will mark both drivers’ first twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic, and also the first in prototype machinery after being among the pace-setters in the GT3 world.
“Since I have been a GT driver, I have taken part in several endurance races, like Spa and the Nürburgring, but Le Mans is even bigger than that,” Vanthoor said. “Participating in this race has been one of my objectives.
“I have been working for it for several years and I am happy to now achieve it. It is a very important event for me, and also for my future.
“Being at the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been always a dream. It is a unique race. I am going to drive a new car and to open a new chapter. That is very exciting.”
Both Vanthoor and Rast are drivers for Audi Sport customer racing in the GT scene.
It comes as no coincidence, as Sebastien Loeb Racing will also be fielding an Audi R8 LMS ultra in the European Le Mans Series’ GTC category this year.
Drivers for the team’s ELMS campaign have yet to be announced.
“Laurens’ performances have not gone unnoticed those last couple of years and we clearly observed them last year when fighting against him in the FIA GT Series,” said team manager Dominique Heintz. “He is young, talented and ambitious. He has the perfect profile.
“Just like René, he embodies the team’s values. They know each other quite well, they both have an experience of 24-hour races, and they have been teammates before. That was an important factor for us.
“We will have a lot to discover at Le Mans and we will do it all together. With young, but particularly motivated, team and drivers.”
The team has strengthened its staff with the addition of Franck Tine in the newly created Sports Director role.
Tine, the founder of LAP Sport Management, was the team manager of BMW Sport Trophy Team India in the FIA GT Series last year.