Inter Europol Competition has finalized its driver lineup for its FIA World Endurance Championship debut this year with Renger van der Zande and Alex Brundle joining the Polish team, and Helio Castroneves coming on-board for the Sebring season-opener.
Double Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Van der Zande and European Le Mans Series front-runner Brundle will share the No. 34 Oreca 07 Gibson with Kuba Smiechowski, who was confirmed as the designated Silver-rated driver last October.
Triple Indianapolis 500 winner and reigning IMSA DPi champion Castroneves will replace van der Zande at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, which opens the 2021 campaign in March.
Van der Zande’s commitments with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the same weekend are preventing the Dutchman from contesting Inter Europol’s maiden WEC race.
“I am proud of our team for being the first Polish team to compete in the World Endurance Championship,” said team principal Sascha Fassbender.
“Special thanks to our team sponsor Inter Europol for making this possible. As our driver line-up shows, we are not competing just to be there.
“We want to make an impression or two and leave our mark in the WEC. With Kuba, who is now contesting his third season in LMP2, and Renger and Alex, who can already look back on race victories in LMP2 and DPI, we have put together a strong team.
“The whole team is highly motivated and cannot wait to enter the WEC stage in March.”
Van der Zande is set for his first WEC campaign since the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ which he contested with DragonSpeed in the LMP1 class.
In addition to his IMSA commitments during the joint ‘Super Sebring’ weekend, van der Zande is set to face a second date clash between the 6 Hours of Fuji and the IMSA race at Long Beach. Inter Europol has so far only outlined a contingency plan for Sebring.
“It’s a privilege to be adding this FIA WEC program with Inter Europol Competition to my Chip Ganassi Racing with Cadillac program in IMSA next season,” said van der Zande.
“That’s my base program for 2021 and of course, I am happy to be going back to Le Mans as well, such an iconic circuit and race.
“Unfortunately, I have a clash for the first round of the series at Sebring, so I cannot race there in WEC, but I will be watching and hope that Inter Europol Competition has a great run, while I focus on the IMSA 12-hour race.”
Castroneves’ call-up to sub for van der Zande at Sebring means the defending IMSA DPi champion with Acura Team Penske is geared up for his maiden outing in the WEC.
The Brazilian, who last raced an LMP2 car in the 2017 Motul Petit Le Mans, is joining Wayne Taylor Racing for this month’s Rolex 24 but is without a full-time IMSA ride.
“I’m super excited to be able to race at the WEC with Inter Europol Competition for the Sebring race,” he said.
“We’ve been talking last year and now we were able to do something really special and hoping this could lead for more opportunities with the team.
“After three years racing with DPi it certainly prepared me for this challenge and I just can’t wait for 2021 to start.”
Brundle last contested the full world championship in 2017 with LMP2 outfit Jackie Chan DC Racing.
The British driver then joined United Autosports’ LMP2 program in 2019 and finished third in last year’s standings with his co-drivers Will Owen and Job van Uitert.
“It’s great to be back racing on the world stage and at some circuits I really enjoy,” said Brundle.
“I’m certainly joining an impressive driver roster and I can’t wait to start pushing the car with Kuba, Renger and Helio.
“The team have scored great results in LMP3 and I’m looking forward to working alongside the engineering and the mechanical crew to be part of the next stage of the team’s racing success and development.”
Inter Europol is graduating to the WEC after five seasons in the ELMS, which it contested with LMP3 machinery for three years before adding a Ligier LMP2 program in 2019.
The team made its debut with the Oreca 07 at Petit Le Mans last October and also ran the November IMSA race at Sebring in preparation for its WEC expansion.