While a name familiar to many, Manor is the newest team to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the UK-based squad, led by John Booth and Graeme Lowdon, now set for a two-car LMP2 entry this season. (En Français)
The ex-Formula One team bosses, who ran the Manor F1 team up until their exit late last year, are now set for a new challenge in world of sports car racing, initially with a pair of Oreca 05 Nissans.
Endurance-Info caught up with Lowdown (pictured above, right), the team’s sporting director, for insight into the move to WEC and their future objectives.
Why go into the WEC?
“I think the championship offers an incredible challenge for both drivers the teams. The FIA WEC is very competitive with a fabulous history.
“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is really the greatest sports car race in the world. All these things helped to convince us that the FIA WEC was where you had to be. There is competition, history and romance.”
What makes LMP2 the perfect fit for Manor?
“The advantage is that the LMP2 category is strictly for racing teams and not the manufacturers. This allows teams to fight against each other on a pure racing base. This is very attractive to us. ”
Do you have a long-term commitment to sports car racing?
“Yes. The investment to enter a new championship only makes sense if you go in the long term, and when I talk about investment, I am not just talking financially, but also all that be put in place to be competitive. ”
How much different is the structure to how things are operated in Formula One?
“Everything is different. This year marks the 27th year of professional racing Manor where were in various championships including Formula 1.
“[Our] F1 adventure ended in 2014. We used the team in 2015 through a subsidiary and the company was acquired by new investors.
“We worked very hard to ensure that it could [survive]. John [Booth] and I worked on this team in 2015, but now we are both gone.
“Manor continues as in the last 26 years and we are very happy that Manor is in FIA WEC for its 27th year. The MRT Formula 1 is totally separate from us.”
Do you have a passion for the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
“I’m a fan of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I had previously seen sports car racing in England and my first 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1990.
“I’m totally fascinated by the whole event. This is really something special. That year, Jaguar did the double with victory for Brundle/Cobb/Nielsen… I think it is from that date that I became addicted to this race I returned until 2009. ”
You were present in Bahrain for the season finale last year. What is your first feelings about the championship?
“I went to Bahrain before heading to Abu Dhabi for Formula 1. I really enjoyed the feel of being at the event.
“Everyone was very welcoming and it was pretty easy for me to realize that the level of competition was very high, but I remember that everyone was there to make the race.”
Is it possible to see Manor in LMP1 in the future?
“Why not … But now our focus is concentrated on LMP2. “