Algarve Pro Racing has signed up Jack Hawksworth, Tristan Vautier and Fred Poordad for an LMP2 Pro-Am assault in the 2023 European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
Hawksworth, a Lexus Racing factory driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD Pro division, attained multiple karting championship titles between 2004 and 2010, when he seamlessly transitioned to car racing.
Third in the Formula Renault Winter Series, Hawksworth then traversed the Atlantic Ocean to step onto the ‘Road to Indy’, and he secured a record eight victories en route to the 2012 Star Mazda title and further race wins the following year in the 2013 Indy Lights Series.
Those successes paved the way to the top tier of American open-wheel racing, the IndyCar Series, which includes the world famous Indy 500.
The British driver dovetailed those commitments with a triumphant IMSA LMPC appearance, and that preceded a full-time drive with Lexus, which over a six-year period has yielded multiple victories, including at the 2022 Petit Le Mans, and the 2020 GTD Sprint Championship.
This year will mark Hawksworth’s seventh consecutive season with Lexus, but it will also herald in a new chapter on the other side of the pond, as he has signed up to Algarve Pro Racing’s 2023 ELMS programme.
“I am really excited to be joining the Algarve Pro Racing team for the 2023 European Le Mans Series,” said Hawksworth. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to be doing some racing in Europe again and I have only heard great things about the ORECA 07 LMP2 car and the team. I have two great teammates in Tristan (Vautier) and Fred (Poordad) and we will be working hard alongside the team to get some strong results.”
Like Hawksworth, Vautier’s career path took him from Formula Renault in his native France onto the ‘Road to Indy’ in The States, although that period also featured sporadic appearances in FIA Formula 2 and Formula Palmer Audi, as well as a full season in the French GT Championship.
The 2010 Star Mazda Series was lucrative, but four race wins, six podiums, four pole positions and four fastest laps led him to championship glory the following year in 2011, which preceded a title-winning rookie campaign in the 2012 Indy Lights Series.
Naturally, this served as a springboard into the IndyCar Series, but the Frenchman also dipped into sportscars on both sides of the Atlantic and has since made a career in international endurance racing, therefore he brings a wealth of GT3 and prototype experience to Algarve Pro’s 2023 ELMS line-up.
“I’m very happy that things worked out for me to join Algarve Pro Racing in the 2023 European Le Mans Series,” said Vautier. “We were in close contact throughout 2022, I really enjoyed the interaction and it has been great to see the team doing so well in LMP2 all around the world.
“I look forward to working with such strong teammates in Jack (Hawksworth) and Fred (Poordad). I’ve shared a track with Jack for several years, but we have always been in different classes. Nevertheless, we have similar backgrounds in single-seaters and there’s a lot of mutual respect. As far as Fred is concerned, we only met at the Rolex 24 at Daytona but I’ve seen what he has done from a distance and I’m excited about partnering up with him for his ELMS debut. Thanks to Algarve Pro for trusting in me. I’m hopeful we will deliver some great results.”
Completing Algarve Pro’s Pro-Am roster is San Antonio-based Bronze Poordad, who began racing Ferrari F430 Challenge and Porsche GT3 Cup cars in Grand-Am and IMSA GT3 Challenge respectively between 2010 and 2013.
Although he continued competing on home soil as part of the IMSA package and in the likes of GT World Challenge America, Poordad broadened his horizons by entering the Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia, rounds of the CREVENTIC 24H Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
However, the 58-year old had only ever raced GT machinery until his maiden LMP2 outing in last month’s IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona (28-29 January), which he says was always intended as a “warm-up” for his debut season in the ELMS.
“I’m very excited to be joining Algarve Pro Racing, Tristan (Vautier) and Jack (Hawksworth) as part of this LMP2 effort in the European Le Mans Series,” said Poordad. “I’m fresh from the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona, which was intended as a warm-up, to get used to the ORECA 07 LMP2 after last year’s official FIA WEC test in Bahrain. Those experiences have given me confidence but there’s still a lot to learn and I’m hoping to test some more before the season, during which my role will be to grow, make as few mistakes as possible and ensure Tristan and Jack are in a position to finish the races strongly. I’m hopeful we can do well against what will undoubtedly be a high quality field.”