The multiple title-winning Algarve Pro Racing team is set to return to the Asian Le Mans Series in 2023, facing a record 48-car entry with a sole ORECA 07 prototype piloted by INDY NXT star Kyffin Simpson, rapid Bronze John Falb and the experienced James Allen.
Algarve Pro was a fixture of the Asian Le Mans grid from the series’ inception in 2015 right through to 2021, when it added a third LMP2 title to those achieved in 2016-17 and 2019-20, and the Gentleman’s Trophy’ it won in 2017-18.
After a year away, the Portugal-based team will return to Dubai Autodrome and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit in February 2023 with a stellar Pro-Am driver line-up, featuring a brand new face to LMP2 prototype competition.
Eighteen-year-old Simpson, born in Barbados and raised in the Cayman Islands, was a leading force in the Caribbean and Floridian karting scenes until his first steps in single-seaters in the 2020 YACademy F4 winter series, in which he achieved podium finishes on his debut.
He went on to utterly dominate the 2021 Formula Regional Americas Championship, taking seven wins and 13 podiums to secure the series title with a race to spare.
This spectacular performance served as a launchpad into the INDYCAR-supporting Indy Lights championship and a development role with Chip Ganassi Racing, and his single-seater endeavours have been twinned with a campaign in the USA’s premier sportscar category, the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
Simpson capped off the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans event with a stunning last-to-first drive in the GTD class, building on his success in the 2021 HPD GT3 Academy, and he’s now looking beyond US shores to the Asian Le Mans Series, where he will make his overseas racing debut with Algarve Pro following an LMP2 effort at the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Algarve Pro Racing in LMP2 for the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series,” said Simpson. “The team welcomed me with open arms at the FIA World Endurance Championship Rookie Test in Bahrain and I found the ORECA 07 LMP2 really rewarding to drive. It’s looking to be a competitive field – I can’t wait to get going with James (Allen) and John (Falb).“
In 2021, Falb became the first driver to be crowned Champion across two European Le Mans Series (ELMS) classes after securing the LMP2 Pro-Am trophy while competing under an Algarve Pro-run programme.
The Las Vegas-domiciled driver then accrued multiple class podiums to finish runner-up in the 2022 ELMS Pro-Am points, but, even though he has a collection of silverware from his previous Asian Le Mans campaign, he’s unwilling to underestimate the competition within the nine-strong LMP2 field he, Simpson and Allen will face in February.
“I’m super excited to be going back to the Asian Le Mans Series,” said Falb. “The organisers have done a great job in making it easier for teams to succeed, and it enables competitors to contest four races in just two weeks, making it far less demanding than visiting four different countries in four months. The series has attracted the largest grid in its history and there will be nine LMP2 cars, all of which require a Bronze driver who has to qualify. That makes it a much more interesting prospect for the likes of me, and I’m expecting to have a lot of fun and to see very mixed results.
“Every team is running a top-notch programme with proper Pro-Am driver line-ups and that’s what endurance racing is truly about. In fact, this may be the most competitive LMP2 Pro-Am series to date. My objective, as always, is to do my absolute best, but of course there is the ultimate prize of winning the title and securing an entry to the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. My new teammate Kyffin (Simpson) is a young driver with an immense amount of talent, then there’s James (Allen) who I’ve raced with throughout 2022 – we get on very well and I know he’s extremely rapid – and then you have Algarve Pro Racing, which continues to get better and better. I’m confident the team will give us a great car and we will hit the ground running.”
Allen, who finished third in the 2021 ELMS LMP2 classification, committed to a three-pronged 2022 campaign with Algarve Pro that was made up of full seasons in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and ELMS, as well as an outing in the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Aussie helped Algarve Pro to multiple class podiums in both the WEC and ELMS, but his crowning glory is undoubtedly the LMP2 Pro-Am victory he, Rene Binder and Steven Thomas achieved in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Consequently, he will start his rookie Asian Le Mans season with confidence and enthusiasm, and he said: “I’m really excited to be racing with Algarve Pro Racing in the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series. It’s a championship I’ve never competed in before, but I’ve only heard good things about it. I got the opportunity to meet Kyffin (Simpson) during the official FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Rookie Test in Bahrain and of course raced the whole European Le Mans season with John (Falb) in 2022. They’re both lovely people to be around and I’m very confident in their abilities. I can’t wait to get started.”