LMP2 race winner Gabriel Aubry will make his GT racing debut in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, joining AF Corse for one of the team’s GTE-Am Ferrari entries.
Aubry, who last year raced for Tower Motorsport in IMSA and worked as Alpine’s Hypercar reserve driver, has been signed to share the No. 71 Spirit of Race-badged Ferrari 488 GTE Evo with Pierre Ragues and Bronze-rated competitor Franck Dezotoux.
The 23-year-old Frenchman’s only prior experience in a GTE car came in 2019 when he piloted an Aston Martin Vantage GTE at the WEC post-season rookie test in Bahrain.
Aubry, who is now on his first full-professional contract, told Sportscar365 that the AF Corse drive arose from an unexpected phone call over the holiday period.
“It started on Christmas Eve when I received a call from the French engineer on the program,” he said.
“It was a great position for me because it’s my first real pro seat; the engineer appreciated the fact that I speak English, French and Italian, which is a big help in an Italian team where we are sharing the car with two French people.
“We started discussing for a whole month. I met with Franck, whose approach to racing is very human. He needs to have a bond between the drivers and mechanics, because ultimately he is an amateur driver.
“He is driven by results, but wants to have a good time and make sure that everyone works together well.”
Aubry explained that an influx of professional drivers to the LMP2 market, triggered by anticipation for the arrival of new manufacturers in the top prototype classes of WEC and IMSA, prompted him to consider a different type of race seat.
“I have been in a lot of prototypes, but ultimately my goal is to become a professional driver,” he said.
“The LMP2 market at the moment is a bit crazy. There are great drivers for those seats and I personally cannot compete with Rene Rast, or all those guys.
“The opportunity came up here, and it’s a profit I’m running. Ultimately this is what I want to do in my life.
“I think when you look at what is coming into the next years, it looks amazing with a lot of different manufacturers.
“I totally understand that everyone from different categories wants to show what they are capable of and learn endurance racing, which is totally different to single-seaters.
“This is why the market is going a bit insane. Everybody wants to have a share of it. I expect it to remain that crazy for the next two or three years.”
Aubry noted that he is not completely turning his back on prototypes, with a potential European Le Mans Series LMP2 program currently being worked on.
It is unclear if he will return as Alpine’s reserve driver in the WEC’s top category this year.
However, he is also open to establishing a career in GTs if his maiden year with AF Corse goes well. The No. 71 Spirit of Race crew is due to intensify its 2022 season preparations with a test at Vallelunga this week ahead of the 1000 Miles of Sebring in March.
“If it works out for me, that would be great,” said Aubry.
“Now it’s up to me for it to work. If the team is happy and everyone works well, I don’t see any reason not to carry over in that direction.”