Six-time grand prix winner Riccardo Patrese will drive a Honda NSX GT3 in the Total 24 Hours of Spa later this month.
The 64-year-old Italian, who made 256 Formula 1 starts in a career that included stints with Williams, Brabham, Arrows and Benetton, is set to make his first race appearance in more than a decade.
In sports cars, he was a regular in the first iteration of the FIA World Endurance Championship, winning the 1985 Spa 1000km in a Martini Racing Lancia.
Patrese, who is now Bronze-rated per the FIA driver grading system, last appeared on a sports car grid at the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was his most recent competitive race except for a handful of outings in GP Masters series in the mid 2000s.
He will share the Pro-Am class Castrol Honda Racing car with French automotive journalist Loic Depailler, the son of grand prix-winner Patrick Depailler, and the previously confirmed Bertrand Baguette and Esteban Guerrieri.
Both Patrese and Depailler sampled the Honda at Cervesina in Italy last month, and also shared time behind the wheel at the official Spa test day two weeks ago.
“Spa-Francorchamps has been one of my favorite circuits for a long, long time and I thought I’d raced there for the last time 25 years ago, so when I was given the opportunity to join Castrol Honda Racing and drive such an exciting car as the NSX GT3, I couldn’t say no,” said Patrese.
“The car handles very well and is nice to drive in the high-speed sections as well as the slower corners.
“I haven’t had too much seat time in the car yet so I’m re-learning things every time I complete another lap, but I’m excited about the race, the car and to work again with a team and breathe in the atmosphere of a race.”
Alessandro Mariani, CEO of JAS Motorsport which runs the entry, added that the team would benefit from Patrese’s vast experience.
“We have an incredibly exciting line-up confirmed for the 24 Hours of Spa,” he said.
“Bertrand and Esteban are two excellent professionals, but as a pro-am entrant, we had a very big decision to make to ensure our two bronze drivers were able to contribute to a successful event.
“In Riccardo we have an incredibly experienced driver who has driven thousands of laps around Spa during a successful career in Formula 1 and sportscars, while Loic has proven his ability in many different racing series and is excited to be a part of our team.”