Ex-F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne joins Manor for WEC campaign
|By Gary Watkins||Friday, March 17th 2017, 11:58 GMT|
Ex-Formula 1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne will race for the Manor LMP2 team in the World Endurance Championship this season.
The Techeetah Formula E driver, who raced for Toro Rosso in F1 from 2011-14, will contest eight of the nine WEC races in what will be his first experience of sportscar racing, apart from a one-off in the Dubai 24 Hours earlier this season.
Vergne joins Simon Trummer, Tor Graves, Jonathan Hirschi and Roberto Gonzalez as confirmed drivers for the two-car squad of ORECA-Gibson 07s entered under the CEFC Manor TRS Racing banner.
He will be unable to contest the Nurburgring WEC round in July courtesy of a clash with the New York FE double-header.
Vergne, who was given a try-out by the Toyota LMP1 squad early in 2015, said: "Endurance racing and especially the Le Mans 24 Hours is something that has been more and more on my mind lately.
"I couldn't ask for more than to start this experience with such a great team."
Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon described Vergne as "a very talented driver who we have followed over the years when we race alongside him in F1".
"He's really enthusiastic about and, as a Frenchman, has a keen understanding of the prestige and importance of Le Mans," Lowdon told Autosport.
"He has a good understanding of what sportscar racing is all about from his experience with Toyota a couple of years ago."
Manor has yet to test its upgraded ORECAs in 07 specification and Vergne will be unable to take part in the official WEC test at Monza on April 1/2 because he will be racing in FE in Mexico City.
Lowdon explained that the team was aiming "to squeeze in a shakedown" between Monza and the first WEC round at Silverstone on April 16.
Manor has yet to decide how it will arrange its signings around Graves and Gonzalez, its two silver-rated drivers.
Lowdon explained that a sixth driver would likely be signed in the next few days and that the line-ups would then be firmed up on a sporting rather than commercial basis.