Formula Nippon champion Loic Duval has joined the French ORECA-Matmut Le Mans Series squad for a limited schedule as the third driver of their privateer Peugeot 908.
He will join former F1 driver, and ORECA veteran, Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre in the diesel fuelled coupe – the only example of the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours winning car in private hands for two confirmed races.
The first will be the Le Mans Series (LMS) opener, an eight hour race at the Paul Ricard circuit before Duval re-joins the team for Le Mans itself in June. Lapierre and Panis will campaign the car for the entire LMS season.
Frenchman Duval is no stranger to Hughes de Chaunac's team having driven for team at Le Mans in 2008, finishing eighth overall, a result that saw him awarded the Jean Rondeau Prize for the best young driver at the prestigious event. More recently driving alongside Lapierre in the Asian Le Mans Series weekend last year.
“After drawing up a short list we put forward a name to our partners as well as Peugeot: it was LoÃ¯c's,” de Chaunac reveals of the process that saw the 27 awarded the drive. “He's built up a great set of results and we know him well. The engineers appreciate him and he always does a very good job – especially at Okayama, which was a test for him but he didn't know it! He fits into a team without problems and he's already worked with Olivier and Nicolas.”
“When Hugues de Chaunac said to me that I'd be doing Le Mans, I was delighted but I thought it would be in the ORECA 01,” admits Duval, referring to team's own car he drove in Japan. “Then when he told me I'd be driving the Peugeot, I felt over the moon!”
“You can spend your whole career waiting for an opportunity like this. I know just how important this programme is for the whole team and it's a real sign of confidence in me. Even though there are a whole lot of special factors to cope with I can't wait to drive the beast.”