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Realteam Recruits Duval, Nato for Step Up to LMP2

Duval, Nato, Garcia to drive for Realteam Racing as Swiss entry steps up to WEC…

Image: Realteam Racing

Realteam Racing will step up to the FIA World Endurance Championship this year with an LMP2 Pro-Am entry involving former LMP1 drivers Loic Duval and Norman Nato.

The Swiss-flagged team, which has fielded LMP3 machinery in the last two European Le Mans Series seasons, is graduating to a global program with support from its continuing operational partner TDS Racing.

2013 FIA World Endurance champion Duval will return to the WEC after skipping the 2019-20 campaign, while Nato drove for Rebellion Racing in LMP1 last season.

The pairing will share the Realteam Oreca 07 Gibson with team owner Esteban Garcia, who finished third in the 2020 ELMS LMP3 standings alongside David Droux.

Garcia will now move up to the WEC for a six-round campaign that will include the Swiss driver’s debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while Droux will be on reserve driver duties.

Garcia’s Bronze driver categorization from the FIA means that he and his teammates will be eligible to compete for the WEC’s new LMP2 Pro-Am classification.

Duval is no stranger to TDS, having driven for the French team in the 2018-19 WEC season.

Last year, Duval raced in the DTM for Audi and also represented Algarve Pro Racing in the ELMS LMP2 division.

Nato, meanwhile, finished third in the WEC last season with Rebellion and contributed to the privateer LMP1 squad’s wins at Shanghai and Circuit of The Americas.

In 2021 Nato will balance his first full-time LMP2 program since the 2018 ELMS with a newly-secured drive with Venturi in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

“We are very pleased to take this further step by entering an LMP2 in the World Endurance Championship and to be eligible for the FIA LMP2 Pro-Am Endurance Trophy,” said Garcia.

“After two full seasons in ELMS with David, a victory and a podium in the championship, it was time for us to reach our goal of competing in the WEC as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“TDS Racing will continue to bring us all its full experience in this program. I am very excited to share the wheel with two drivers as experienced as Loic and Norman.”

TDS is confirmed to operate two cars in this year’s WEC, with its agreement to run the Racing Team Nederland Pro-Am Oreca extended for another two years.

“TDS Racing is very pleased to strengthen its relationship with Realteam Racing,” said team principal Xavier Combet.

“The move to LMP2 is a logical continuation of the results achieved last year.

“Esteban’s passion for motorsport and the experience and professionalism of Loic Duval and Norman Nato will undoubtedly be important assets in the race for the title in the Pro-Am category.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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