After hanging up his helmet at the end of last year, Elton Julian will make his driving return in the Blancpain Endurance Series next year.
The DragonSpeed team principal was confirmed Tuesday as the second driver for its Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 effort, joining Swedish racer Henrik Hedman and a to-be-determined third pilot.
The South Florida-based team previously announced plans to contest the five-round European GT championship, likely running in the Pro-Am Cup class.
“I can’t say it took me very long to say yes when Henrik asked me to drive with him,” Julian said. “The three-hour races are just the right length for me to fill the role of ‘player-manager’, which I think will make me that much more effective in helping Henrik and whoever is in the third seat.
“The fact that our PWC crew will be carrying over to the BES is also key to my getting behind the wheel again.”
Julian has enjoyed considerable success in a driving career which started in single-seaters and then stalled for almost a decade before a revival in sports cars.
The Ecuadorean, who turned 40 in August, still holds the record for the youngest-ever winner of a British F3 race, earned an F1 test contract at age 20, was the highest-finishing rookie at Le Mans in 2005, scored six PC class wins in ALMS competition, and was fifth in the final LMP2 standings of the inaugural WEC in 2012.
It’s unclear if Julian will be classified as a Silver or Gold, with officials from the FIA, ACO, IMSA and SRO working on a new globally-recognized driver ratings list that will debut in 2015.
“The driver rating system is continuing to evolve and I’m not sure how I’ll be classified, but I’ll either be a cheap Gold or an expensive Silver!” Julian said. “We do know Henrik will have Bronze status, so based on where I end up, we can take on a Silver or Bronze.
“We’ll be talking to drivers in both categories both here and overseas over the next few weeks. We want someone with speed and experience, of course, but who will also fit in with the team and share in the spirit of the adventure the BES program represents for us.”
Hedman heads into this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge season-ending double-header at Miller Motorsports Park second in the GT-A championship standings and the highest-placed rookie overall, with a shot of the title in the competitive GT3-based division.