Jack Aitken, John Falb and Sophia Flörsch form Algarve Pro Racing’s LMP2 Pro-Am line-up for the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (11-12 June).
The Algarve Pro-Aitken partnership started with two days of testing at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Tuesday and Wednesday (26-27 April) and, while heavy rain initially limited Aitken’s mileage, conditions improved sufficiently for the British-Korean racer to clock up plenty of meaningful miles.
Aitken ascended the junior single-seater ladder, spending three seasons in Formula 2 after learning his craft in Foormula Renault 2.0 and GP3, to earn himself an F1 Reserve Driver role with Williams Racing.
He made his F1 free practice debut for Williams at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix and was then drafted into a race seat for that year’s Sakhir Grand Prix, and he returned to the Williams cockpit for another FP1 appearance almost a year later at the 2021 Abu Dhabi finale.
However, Aitken is no stranger to 24-hour competition, having raced a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the 2021 Spa 24 Hours, which ended with a dramatic multi-car shunt that left him with a fractured collarbone and vertebrae.
Mercifully, the 26-year old Briton has made a full recovery, and he is in the midst of a busy 2022 that encompasses the European Le Mans Series, GT World Challenge Europe, ADAC GT Masters, and now the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Algarve Pro Racing.
“The 24 Hours of Le Mans has been on my racing bucket list for a long time, so I’m hugely excited to be going this year,” said Aitken. “As trackside spectators will be back, I can look forward to the legendary atmosphere and getting the full Le Mans experience. This is my first full season in LMP2 and the transition from Formula 2 single-seaters to Le Mans Prototypes hasn’t been too difficult. The cars share some traits but there are some significant differences, as LMP2s are more robust, there’s more going on in terms of on-board technology and, of course, there are unique aspects to the racing, like traffic management.
“I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve found myself getting more and more comfortable. My first European Le Mans Series race went really well, winning in LMP2 Pro-Am. It’s early days with Algarve Pro Racing, but we have a strong Pro-Am driver line-up; Sophia (Flörsch) has performed really well In LMP2 recently and John is undoubtedly one of the fastest Am racers on the grid. The Pro-Am victory would be absolutely fantastic and that’s what we’re shooting for. You always need a bit of luck in the big races, but, if we prepare in the right way, we should be fast and right up there.”
Falb, who in 2021 secured the ELMS LMP2 Pro-Am title with Algarve Pro and has designs on class glory at Le Mans, said: “I could not be more excited to announce our campaign for the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teaming up with Jack (Aitken) and Sophia (Flörsch) came together in a quite interesting way. Like life in general, you can’t always predict how things will turn out.
“After spending time with Sophia in the Algarve Pro Racing garage, she has made a huge impression on me, and that was further solidified after a two-day test at Monza. During that test, I was also able to get to know Jack and we hit it off straight away. Given the pace, consistency and professionalism of my teammates, I expect to have a great run, but we will still need the good graces of Le Mans smiling upon us to achieve a result!”
Flörsch, meanwhile, became the first woman in ELMS history to finish second overall in the 2022 season-opener in Le Castellet, and she also has clear objectives for Le Mans, saying: I’m super happy to have Jack (Aitken) onboard. He has done an F1 race and a lot of work with several F1 teams, and I think he has proven to be a very quick driver.
“Our line-up in the LMP2 Pro-Am category is really strong, with John (Falb) being one of the fastest amateurs out there. There’s definitely potential for a podium or even a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That is our goal and we will do everything possible to achieve it. Anything can happen, but we’re really confident and I’m looking forward to the big one.”