Ahead of the pre-season test for the European Le Mans Series, which will take place March 28-29 around Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Algarve Pro Racing have announced their driver line-up for the 2017 season. The trio of drivers will race a Ligier JS P217 in the Le Mans Prototype 2. The line-up sees Matthew McMurry and Andrea Pizzitola partner up with Andrea Roda.
The three drivers have raced together as a team in the past, competing in various rounds of the Asian Le Mans Series. Algarve Pro Racing team principal Stewart Cox believes that this prior racing history will be an asset to his driver line-up for their season of racing together.
“It’s taken three years to put a team together that will enable us to go racing instead of just taking part,” said Cox. “The whole team are motivated to start the ELMS championship as we left Asia fighting for wins, and with the three drivers we now have, we have never been in in a better position. The team has improved leaps and bounds over the last six months and so have the drivers.”
Roda won the AsianLMS series driver’s championship at Sepang International Circuit in January. He also helped to secure the AsianLMS series team championship for Algarve Pro Racing at the same race. It was no surprise when Algarve Pro Racing announced him as their first ELMS driver after he had had such a successful year with the team.
“I’m so happy to join Algarve Pro team after the championship victory in Asian Le Mans Series,” Roda said as he looks ahead to progressing into the next stage of his sports car racing career. “I’m looking forward to driving again with Matt and Andrea; we did a very good job together. The line-up is strong to compete in ELMS and I’m sure everybody will give 100% to make a great year.”
At the age of 19, McMurry is the youngest driver on the team. However, his age has never stalled him in his racing career. At age 16, in 2014, McMurry became the youngest driver to compete in and finish the Le Mans 24 Hours. In the same year, he competed in the LMP2 class in ELMS. McMurry has complete in the LMP2 class over the last two season of his career, as well as racing in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and AsianLMS. This year also sees him in his second year of GT racing as the additional driver in the Park Place Motorsports Porsche for the four major US endurance events. At the end of January, McMurry made an incredible impression on the American racing field in the Rolex 24 Hours, his race being cut short to the car being hit by an LMPC car during the night.
“I’m really looking forward to being back in Europe, while also continuing my work in the US,” McMurry said after being confirmed for a full season in ELMS. “It’s going to be a very busy year, but busy is good. ELMS will be more competitive than ever with 13 entries in LMP2, so the competition will be strong and that’s for the best.”
The third driver for the Algarve Pro Racing ELMS line-up is Pizzitola. Having had racing experience with Algarve Pro Racing, having competed in three ELMS rounds with the team last season, the Nissan factory driver has already displayed incredible pace. He took multiple pole positions in the last season of AsianLMS and has a lot of valuable experience in an endurance race environment. Pizzitola is also a product of the Renault ladder system and has raced in a variety of disciplines, including Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0, Renault Sport Trophy, and Sport Endurance Trophy.
“I am really happy to be part of the adventure again with Stewart and Samantha (Cox) and I am so touched and glad that they give me this confidence and they trust me,” said Pizzitola ahead of the new season. “I will give the maximum as always to get the best result with the team. They did a great job last year, we improved a lot during the season and the car was really good at the end. I am confident for this year. I think we have a very good line-up altogether and I can’t wait to be in the car for the first test.”
As Algarve Pro Racing won AsianLMS last season, they have an automatic invite to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Cox stated that the team is currently evaluating their available drivers and driver combinations for the blue-ribboned event and hope to be able to confirm their line-up for the race in June after the Monza test at the end of this month.