The Blancpain Endurance Series is set to further grow its global reach with the addition of an American team to its grid next year.
Sportscar365 has learned that DragonSpeed is preparing an entry into the popular GT3 championship, with Henrik Hedman to lead driving duties in the team’s Ferrari 458 Italia GT3.
Former Ferrari Challenge ace Hedman, who currently competes in Pirelli World Challenge with the Elton Julian-owned owned operation, will make the step up alongside the Florida-based team.
“I’m excited about it,” Julian told Sportscar365. “It will be the biggest, best thing we’ve ever done. As a team, it’s a fantastic opportunity to move forward.
“We love racing in Europe. I think both of our goals is to be at Le Mans, [Henrik] as a driver and me as a team owner, and it’s a step closer to that.”
Julian, an accomplished open-wheel and sports car driver turned team owner, said they are still finalizing details for the Pro-Am Cup class effort, which would be run in addition to its planned return to World Challenge next year.
The team, which has previously contested the 24 Hours of Dubai and Bathurst 12 Hour, is likely to have a European base in France, with the core DragonSpeed squad, including engineers Mark Schomann and Leon Gutfreund being supplemented by a handful of European-based mechanics.
“I talked to Elton last year and we started [the World Challenge] program,” said Hedman, a native of Sweden. “He knows my ultimate goal is to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is a good starting step [in World Challenge] and racing the GT3 cars, but you need to do some endurance racing to get prepared for that.
“It’s just one step in the plan to get to the ultimate goal. I’ve been to Spa, Paul Ricard and Monza, so I know the tracks. It’s a fantastic field.
“There were more than 60 cars at Spa 24. And, at least this year, the schedule didn’t conflict with World Challenge. I really want to do World Challenge again next year as well.”
While Hedman’s Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 currently used in World Challenge will likely remain Stateside, Julian said no decision has been made on whether they will purchase or lease a Ferrari for BES .
One of the big factors, he said, will be on whether the Italian manufacturer announces plans for a new GT3 car for 2016.