Racing Engineering has set its sights on a future FIA World Endurance Championship program, as the Spanish open-wheel outfit makes its sports car racing return this year.
The ex-Formula 2 squad will enter the European Le Mans Series LMP2 ranks with an Oreca 07 Gibson, which according to team boss Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, is set to serve as a stepping stone to a full WEC entry by as early as the 2019/20 season.
“We must remain realistic; starting directly in the WEC would have been too complicated,” Orleans-Borbon told Endurance-Info. “We would have faced teams that have known the category and the championship for a long time.
“Switching to the WEC is part of our desire and we will do what it takes to get there.
“There is also the opportunity to participate in the 24 Hours of Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring. Endurance racing makes it possible to have beautiful programs.”
After focusing exclusively on the European open-wheel scene for the last 15-plus years, the team has returned to its roots, where it fielded a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000.
Orleans-Borbon said the time was right to make the switch back to sports car racing.
“Formula 2 is a very good category but for me it became routine,” he said. “Each race was similar to the previous one.
“Last December, I wondered whether to continue. We have watched the LMP2 category in recent years but it was too complicated to [have a dual program] because we could not have done things well in both disciplines.
“In addition, we had time to see the different [LMP2] chassis.”
Its brand-new Oreca, which the team has helped assemble at the constructor’s workshop in France, is slated for delivery early next month, prior to a pre-season testing program.
F2 veteran Norman Nato is so far the only confirmed driver for the ELMS LMP2 effort.
“We are currently working on [securing] hardware because it requires much more than a Formula 2, which is very sharp and close to Formula 1,” Orleans-Borbon said.
“It takes more material to run an LMP2 than a Formula 2.
“We must prepare everything carefully because we want to do things the best we can.”
The team could also take part in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, although the chances appear slim, as the fourth reserve entry.