While set for its LMP2 debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year, Team SARD-Morand has outlined plans of fighting for overall victories in the not-too-distant future. (En Français)
SARD, which became the first Japanese team to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1973, is likely to eventually step up to the LMP1 class, according to general manager Hideki Noda.
“This year Team SARD-Morand is entering the LMP2 class but I think that in the future we will move to LMP1,” Noda said. “We are very excited about that.”
Noda, a former open-wheel and sports car ace, heads up SARD’s efforts this year, as a joint effort with the Swiss-based Morand Racing squad, a stalwart of the European Le Mans Series.
A pair of Morgan EVO-SARDs will be driven by Christian Klien, Koki Saga, Pierre Ragues and Oliver Webb, with Tristan Vautier joining Klien and Saga in the No. 39 car for the opening two rounds.
Prior to its link-up with the Benoit Morand-led squad, SARD had been in the stages of finalizing a LMP1 program for 2015, although those plans fell through late last year.
A revised timeline for its LMP1 program has yet to be revealed, with all attention currently on the two-car LMP2 effort, which debuts in the season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone in April.
“The feature that makes Benoit Morand the best partner for us to come back in endurance racing is his state of mind, which is very similar to ours,” Noda said. “He built up a very nice private team. His crew has the real thing and spirit to win races.
“This is exactly the same for us in Japan. We do not operate like a big LMP1 factory team but victory is what everything is all about. This is racing indeed.”
SARD holds a close link with Toyota through its Super GT activities in Japan, although there’s no official word if that relationship could expand to a FIA WEC program in 2016.