After two successful seasons in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), Swiss Benoit Morand joins the LMP2 class of the FIA WEC while Japanese team SARD RACING TEAM is coming back in an international championship.
Over the past two seasons in the highly competitive LMP2 class, Benoit Morand and his Judd-powered Morgan claimed one overall victory, finished in the top 3 in the final standings of the 2014 ELMS and twice received the chequered flag in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Founded in 1972, Sigma Automotive Co Ltd started its racing activities as SARD (the acronym for Sigma Advanced Research and Development) in the mid-eighties, establishing a long-term relationship with Toyota, notably in endurance racing. SARD and Toyota scored their best result in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994, with the runner-up spot for the 94 CV prototype driven by Jeff Krosnoff, Eddie Irvine and Mauro Martini.
These two approaches of motor racing, blending Benoit Morand’s reputation of originality and performance and SARD’s Japanese tradition and racing experience, are joining together today to create TEAM SARD-MORAND. “Benoit Morand has the spirit to win and the knowledge needed to be a strong team which seems a usual things for a team manager but it is not occasional case in today’s motor sport. We would also like to demonstrate our new technology in FIA WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” says team principal Katsuyuki Sato. The team is initiating an exciting challenge, which starts in 2015 with a significant presence in the LMP2 grid of the FIA WEC with two Morgan EVO SARDs.
TEAM SARD-MORAND choose an involvement of international level in the LMP2 class of the FIA WEC, a world championship in great expansion attracting many renowned new teams as well as drivers of high reputation. In order to tackle with a fierce competition, TEAM SARD-MORAND will enter two cars in 2015 and aim at battling as soon as possible in the LMP2 top positions. “TEAM SARD-MORAND is born to win races, it’s in our genes! The Morgan chassis received a new 2015 homologation. After discussions with our partner Onroak Automotive, it rapidly was obvious that thanks to the changes which can be made, the chassis will keep a very good level of competitiveness. We know the Morgan very well and it is the best option for TEAM SARD-MORAND in 2015,” shares Benoit Morand.
TEAM SARD-MORAND will once again collaborate with Onroak Automotive, and the two Morgan EVO SARDs entered in the FIA WEC will feature the 2015 technical evolutions designed by Jacques Nicolet’s staff, and will be fitted by a 3.6 litre V8 SARD engine. Dunlop has been working with Benoit Morand since the inception of his team and will carry on this year as the tyre supplier for TEAM SARD-MORAND.
For their two Morgan EVO SARD chassis, TEAM SARD-MORAND blend the experience and talents of drivers from all over the world. Christian Klien from Austria (a former Formula 1 and LMP1 factory driver, who raced with Benoit Morand’s team in 2013 and 2014) and Koki Saga from Japan (a Super Formula and Super GT stalwart in his country) will share the #39 car. The third driver will be announced shortly. Pierre Ragues from France and Oliver Webb from the UK (both claimed the LMP2 drivers’ title, in 2013 and 2014 respectively) will be at the wheel of the #43. They will joined by the winner of the “Race To 24” show for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the remaining rounds of the 2015 FIA WEC. The team mate of the Ragues-Webb pair for the Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps race will be announced soon.
For TEAM SARD-MORAND, 2015 will be a year of discovery in the FIA WEC and its circuits, but the team will be aiming at podium finishes before even higher objectives in 2016.