Algarve Pro Racing can confirm it will enter an ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2 for Toby Sowery, Freddie Tomlinson and Chris McMurry in the impending 2023-24 Asian Le Mans Series, which commences with a four-hour race at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia (1-2 December).
Sowery has shown grit and determination throughout his career, ascending the single-seater ladder in spite of frustrating budgetary constraints.
The 26-year-old from Cambridgeshire in the UK, a karting contemporary of Formula 1 stars Lando Norris and George Russell, made it as far as the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship before heading across the Atlantic to set off on the ‘Road to Indy’.
He won the MotorSport Vision F3 Cup Championship on home soil and India’s MRF Challenge in the earliest stages of his career, to then finish third in the category formerly known as Indy Lights in his rookie 2019 season, having also accrued victories and podiums in Italian F4, International GT Open and Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia along the way.
Partial INDY NXT campaigns featured some eye-catching performances that led to a maiden IndyCar Series test at Sebring International Raceway earlier this year, but Sowery’s immediate focus is now on his competitive debut in Le Mans Prototypes in the 2023-24 Asian Le Mans Series.
“I’m really excited to have this opportunity with Algarve Pro Racing and the new challenge of the Asian Le Mans Series,” said Sowery. “It’s a totally new experience for me, having had less than one day in the ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2, but I’m very confident in the support that APR will provide. I instantly felt comfortable with the team and, looking at its history, there isn’t a better place to start this journey.”
Tomlinson, who spent the first three years of his car racing career in the Ginetta Junior Championship, joins Algarve Pro’s 2023-24 Asian Le Mans effort off the back of two seasons in the British GT Championship, where he was an overall GT4 winner and achieved further podiums.
The 19-year-old already has some prototype experience, having demonstrated the Ginetta LMP1 and partaken in LMP3 tests prior to joining Algarve Pro in this year’s European Le Mans Series (ELMS) Rookie Test at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
There, Tomlinson completed plenty of representative laps and came to understand the challenge of driving LMP2 machinery, and he has returned to the UK from three weeks in Antigua that featured an intense training programme of body weight and cardio exercises, designed to ready him for the stifling heat and humidity of Malaysia.
“The step up from GT4 cars to Le Mans Prototypes is a big one, but I had a lot of fun learning the ORECA 07-Gibson and getting to know Algarve Pro Racing in Portimao,” said Tomlinson. “To test at such a physical and technical track that has some similarities to Sepang International Circuit was invaluable and I’m sure my on and off-track preparations mean I’ll be well prepared for what’s to come in the 2023-24 Asian Le Mans Series.
“However, I’m not going into the season with any firm hopes or expectations. Instead, I’ll simply focus on extracting the maximum from myself and the car, building up from there. Having joined Algarve Pro for the Rookie Test in October, I’m confident the team will provide a great environment in which I can develop quickly and, as ELMS Champions, I have no doubt we will be given competitive equipment. Algarve Pro is currently one of the most impressive teams on the grid because of how much has been achieved and it’s great to be part of it. I hope we can continue its strong run of form in Asia.”
McMurry, aged 58, has a long history in the top flights of sportscar racing; he participated in nearly 100 American Le Mans Series races between 2002 and 2013 and achieved top results in both LMP1 and LMP2, including a win in the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring and a podium at Petit Le Mans in 2013.
Following a five-year hiatus, Phoenix, Arizona-domiciled McMurry returned to competition with Algarve Pro in the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series, and he’s set to reunite with the three-time Champion team in the forthcoming season, fresh from two ultra-successful Radical campaigns, in which he won 26 of the 36 races entered.
“It has been five years since I had Stewart (Cox) and Samantha (Cox) on my radio in the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series, and we have always made a good team,” said McMurry. “I suspect much of the attention will be paid to other entries during the lead up to the opening round of the 2023-24 season at Sepang, but Freddie (Tomlinson), Toby (Sowery) and I are planning to be an unexpected surprise in what is looking like a highly competitive LMP2 field.”
Algarve Pro Racing Team Principal, Stewart Cox, said: “We’re expecting quite a lot from what we believe is a really strong line-up. We have tested countless Silver-rated drivers and Toby (Sowery) really shone, so we’re pleased to have him in the #25 car alongside Freddie (Tomlinson) and Chris (McMurry). I’ve known the Tomlinson family since Freddie was a kid and it’s great that he will be starting his endurance racing career with Algarve Pro, and our relationship with Chris also goes back a long way, having fielded his son Matt (McMurry) in the European Le Mans Series, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Of course, Chris himself raced with us in the 2018-19 Asian Le Mans Series and, as the Bronze in this combination, I feel his knowledge and experience of Sepang International Circuit will be important.”