Algarve Pro Racing will field an LMP2 entry for John Falb, Franco Colapinto and Rui Andrade in defence of its Asian Le Mans Series crown.
Colapinto won national karting championships in his native Argentina in 2016 and 2018, when he also took victory in the Youth Summer Olympics, before moving to Europe to launch his junior single-seater career.
He made an immediate impact on the FIA Spanish Formula 4 Championship, taking a win and a second place on debut – a solitary outing in the final round of the 2018 season – to secure a drive with two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s FA Racing team.
By tallying no fewer than 11 race victories, 13 podium finishes and ten pole positions, Colapinto was crowned Spanish F4 Champion, and that success was backed up by a Rookie Championship win in the 2020 Toyota Racing Series (TRS).
The 17-year-old graduated to the Formula Renault Eurocup on his return to Europe but is now readying himself for a switch from open-wheelers to Le Mans Prototypes as part of the Algarve Pro’s assault on the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series.
“Before I tested in Portimao, my only experience in an LMP2 car was in the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Colapinto. “Coming from F4 and just one season of Formula Renault, it’s a big change. The power, braking and downforce is just so amazing. I think I always step up to new challenges well, because I won F4 in my first year and finished as the highest debutant in Formula Renault. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel, and to do it with Rui (Andrade) is so exciting. I’ve watched Algarve Pro Racing in the real 24 Hours of Le Mans and I know they are an amazing team so I’m sure we’ll have good success in the Asian Le Mans Series.”
Andrade also made his circuit racing debut in Spanish F4 but progressed quickly during an intense three-pronged 2019 campaign in Euroformula Open, Formula Renault Eurocup and UAE F4, in which he achieved seven podiums and two fastest laps.
A solid performance in the 2020 TRS in New Zealand preceded a second EuroFormula Open season, which yielded 11 top ten finishes and a best result of sixth, but the 21-year old is now getting set to fly the flag for his home country Angola in the Asian Le Mans Series.
“I just can’t wait to get back to Abu Dhabi, as it’s where my career really kicked off when I got seven podiums in UAE F4,” said Andrade. “To be returning just a few years later in LMP2 is incredible. Before the test in Portimao, I had a few different opportunities lined-up, but I knew this was the one I wanted to pursue as soon as I arrived. Algarve Pro Racing is so professional and friendly, and they helped me to learn the new car quickly so I could focus on improving my lap times. I think we’re going to have an incredible Asian Le Mans season together and I’m looking forward to returning to the UAE to fly the Angolan flag once again.”
Sharing the Algarve Pro-prepared #25 machine with Colapinto and Andrade will be 49-year-old American, Falb.
The Las Vegas driver’s roots lie in two-wheeled competition, as he spent several years contesting California Club events before turning to four wheels as his family commitments grew and his career developed.
After forging a reputation as a prototype winner with three Radical Cup USA titles and two Masters Championships in IMSA Prototype Lights, he crossed the Atlantic to take on the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
Falb, 2017 ELMS LMP3 Champion, has raced within the Algarve Pro fold for the last two seasons, which have yielded Pro-Am Trophy victories, and he’s enthusiastic about the team’s trajectory ahead of his maiden Asian Le Mans campaign, saying: “I’ve been keen to participate in the Asian Le Mans Series for some time now, but it has always been difficult because of US holidays and ski season. This year is much more interesting to me because of the condensed four-race schedule in Abu Dhabi, although I have no idea what to expect, having never been to that part of the world. I’m very happy Asian Le Mans is committed to moving forward with racing, though.
“I’m excited about sharing the #25 car with Franco (Colapinto) and Rui (Andrade), who are both extremely capable. Algarve Pro has always done very well in Asia and it’s exciting to be going into the new season with the intention of defending the team’s championship title. Algarve Pro Racing stepped up a level in 2020 by adding resources and appointing somebody of David Leach’s calibre as Technical Director. As a driver, it’s exciting, and that such talented people are coming onboard is a significant vote of confidence in the team.”