Yelmer debuts in the European Le Mans Series
Status Grand Prix opens a new chapter in its history by embarking on its first sportscar championship campaign in the 2012 European Le Mans Series at the season's opening race at the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit this weekend. And Yelmer will be one of the three drivers for the team.
The Silverstone, UK-based team, is expanding into the endurance racing arena under its own banner, after previously providing technical support to other sportscar organisations, including top US team Level 5 Motorsports' Lola LMP2 programme last year.
Status GP's all-new Judd-powered Lola B12/80 Coupe LMP2 car, which competes in the ELMS' premier class, will be driven in the six-hour race at Paul Ricard by a strong line-up comprising Dutchman Yelmer Buurman and Britons Alexander Sims and Dean Stirling, and will use Dunlop tyres.
The engineering side of Status GP's sportscar team is led by Technical Director Rob Arnott and Chief Mechanic Mark Chittenden, who oversaw a successful maiden test of Status GP's B12/80 at Snetterton earlier this week.
Sims, 24, recently announced as a factory McLaren GT driver, is combining a sports prototype ELMS campaign with his McLaren role this year. In 2011, the former McLaren/Autosport BRDC award winner was a race winner and season-long title contender in GP3 with Status GP, and is re-united with the team for the full ELMS season.
Ex-GP2 Series racer Buurman joins Sims at Paul Ricard. The 25-year-old scored eight wins over for the past three seasons in the 750hp Superleague single-seater series before making an impressive transition to sportscar racing by winning both races on his debut in the FIA GT1 World Championship at San Luis last year.
Dean Stirling, 25, is an ex-single-seater racer who has amassed sportscar experience in both the LMP1 and LMPC classes as well as finishing runner-up in the competitive Speed Euroseries sportscar category in 2011. He arrives at Le Castellet this weekend fresh from his debut in the Sebring 12 Hours earlier this month.
Status GP is an Irish-licensed team best known for its single-seater successes with a race-winning team in the GP3 Series - in which it will again compete in 2012 - as well as its title success as A1 Team Ireland in the 2008-09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.
Teddy Yip, Status GP team principal
"It's fantastic that Status GP's long-held ambition to move into sportscar racing in our own right is coming to fruition this weekend, and it's an important development for the company. We're especially delighted to make the step with our allies at Lola Cars International, and we're very grateful to them and our technical suppliers Judd, Dunlop, Motul and many others for all supporting us to be ready to kick off our sportscar season at Paul Ricard".
"I also thank all the personnel on Status GP's sportscar team, who've been so dedicated in getting the car and equipment ready. With limited testing and such a competitive LMP2 field in ELMS we don't underestimate the challenge that lies ahead this weekend, but we're looking forward to making our mark this season. It's great to welcome a talent like Alexander back to the Status GP fold, and Yelmer and Dean are excellent additions to the team with first-class credentials and we're delighted they chose to race with Status GP."
"I'm very excited to do this race and to drive a prototype sportscar. I think we have a really good combination across the team, and thanks to Status GP for giving me this opportunity."