An Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 LMP2 will be raced in the 2021 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) by Asian Le Mans Champion Ferdinand Habsburg, Mexican racer Diego Menchaca and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Richard Bradley.
Habsburg, along with Rene Binder and Yifei Ye, accumulated two wins and a podium finish to take G-Drive Racing operated by Algarve Pro Racing to its second consecutive Asian Le Mans Series title in February.
Having made such a big impression, Habsburg was a natural choice for the Portugal-based team’s 2021 ELMS line-up, and while the Vienna-domiciled driver is optimistic about his on-track prospects, he has far more ambitious and honourable objectives for the forthcoming season.
“Our first attempt at a championship with G-Drive Racing operated by Algarve Pro Racing landed us a title win and resulted in a strong bond between me and the team,” said Habsburg. “I am excited about extending this relationship with Algarve Pro Racing into the European Le Mans Series. It’s a very competitive championship and we want to carry on winning, with all eyes on another title.
“I am really looking forward to working with my new teammates, Diego (Menchaca) and Richard (Bradley). With Diego’s skills and Richard`s impressive racing record, we are on for a strong season together. I am thankful to my partners AVL Racing, Sanlas Holding and Remus Performance Sport Exhausts for their continued support, and to Bullet Sports Management for having my back in every aspect of my career. It’s going to be a special season in many ways, and I can’t wait to reveal our livery, which will be the first step towards a greater goal that goes beyond racing.’’
Menchaca’s racing career began in his native Mexico but quickly moved on to Europe. After two seasons in UK-based Formula Renault and Formula 4 championships, he graduated to the Euroformula F3 Open, in which he achieved five podiums and challenged for the title.
The Mexico City resident went on to make his debut in the Formula 1-supporting GP3 Series but changed course the following year in 2019 when he took up a Silver Cup seat in GT World Challenge Europe.
The 26-year-old is now preparing himself for a “surprising” switch from GT3-spec racing to LMP2 prototypes in the 2021 ELMS, saying: “I am very happy and thankful to be joining the European Le Mans Series with Algarve Pro Racing. It’s quite surprising as it seemed certain that I’d continue on my path in GT3 championships, but I couldn’t let this opportunity go.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team or teammates to begin my journey in Le Mans Prototypes with. It will be a big challenge, as I’ve never driven an LMP2 car before, but I’m doing everything in my power to prepare myself. I really want to thank Algarve Pro Racing and my backers for this amazing chance.”
Completing the #24 Algarve Pro Racing line-up is Bradley. The UK-born, Hangzhou, China-based driver took a reasonably typical route in his early career, as karting successes preceded junior single-seater campaigns in Formula BMW and F3, and then Japan’s Super Formula.
However, Bradley diverted to sportscars in 2013, and during his third season in Le Mans Prototypes he reached a personal career zenith by achieving a dominant LMP2 victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A race winner in the ELMS, Asian Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Bradley brings vast amounts of experience that will make him an asset to Algarve Pro Racing and his young teammates, Habsburg and Menchaca.
“I’m excited to be working with Algarve Pro Racing, as I’ve known Stewart Cox for a while now and it’s nice that I finally get to drive one of his cars,” said Bradley. “I’m yet to meet Ferdinand (Habsburg) and Diego (Mancheca) but I know them by reputation, and with our mix of experience and results we should be fighting for nothing less than wins. I have been competing at the highest levels of sportscar racing for a long while and I’ve covered a lot of kilometres. I’ll be happy if I can bring something from my years of experience to help my teammates, but their results suggest they are going to be very fast from the outset and I’m sure I’ll learn something from them, too.
“However, the level of competition is extremely high, the entry is huge, and we’re under no illusions as to how difficult it is going to be. I’m expecting to see at least six LMP2 teams fighting for victories and we need to make sure we’re one of them. Ultimately, the easiest thing to do in sportscars is drive fast, but adapting to the particulars of multi-class endurance racing is tricky; traffic management is going to make a big difference and, when you throw in the new engine power and single-spec tyres, you have a really nice, fascinating challenge for everyone.”