There’s a quiet confidence about RLR MSport, which will be targeting the podium when the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and Michelin Le Mans Cup reconvene at Austria’s picturesque Red Bull Ring (21-22 July).
Happily, Alex Kapadia and Ross Warburton will make a long-awaited comeback to RLR MSport’s Le Mans Cup ranks for the first time since official pre-season testing at Circuit Paul Ricard in April.
Warburton sustained a shoulder injury prior to the opening race weekend of the 2018 season in Le Castellet and took an enforced hiatus from racing, as doctors felt the physical pressures of competition would only aggravate the issue and prolong his recovery.
But having been sidelined for the first two rounds of the Le Mans Cup at Circuit Paul Ricard and Monza, the British Am is now fighting fit and raring to make up for lost time with Pro teammate Kapadia.
The Pro-Am pairing were standout performers in 2017 and possessed supreme speed and consistency in pre-season testing, but Kapadia refuses to underestimate the scale of the challenge he and Warburton will face upon their return to the burgeoning Le Mans Cup at the Red Bull Ring.
“Firstly, I’m really happy to be back with RLR MSport,” said Kapadia. “I obviously hoped to be back in with the team sooner, but that wasn’t to be. Ross (Warburton) and I have a system and a decent programme to work through during testing, but the Michelin Le Mans Cup has moved on greatly since last year – it’s far more competitive – and there’s no doubt that we have some catching up to do. In 2017, Ross and I hoped for top six finishes and felt we had an outside shot at podiums, but a top ten would be a big result for us. This weekend at the Red Bull Ring will be about getting back in the saddle and we’re not expecting too much.”
Of course, John Farano and Job van Uitert continued waving the RLR MSport flag in Le Castellet and Monza, where they showed flashes of brilliance against a super-competitive Le Mans Cup field, while also racing to glory with teammate Rob Garofall in the European Le Mans Series.
RLR MSport’s victorious ELMS line-up remains unchanged for the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring and there’s a great deal of hope and optimism among the drivers, who believe they can reach the peak and take more silverware in among the Styrian Hills.
“I’m really looking forward to racing at the Red Bull Ring, as it’s a track I know very well, having raced there in Formula 4 for the past three years,” said van Uitert. “For me, it’s probably the most familiar and comfortable circuit on the European Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup calendars and it’s a place where the drivers can make a real difference, but I also believe the Ligier JSP3 will be a super-strong package. We will be pushing to the maximum to be fully prepared for the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring, to hopefully repeat the sort of success we had at the start of the season and have been capable of in every subsequent round.”
RLR MSport Director of Motorsport Operations, Nick Reynolds, said: “First of all, it’s a pleasure to welcome Alex (Kapadia) and Ross (Warburton) back to RLR MSport’s Michelin Le Mans Cup programme. They have been a big part of our team for some time and it was a shame that they were unable to make use of the momentum gathered during what was a strong and super consistent 2017 season. There’s no doubt that the Le Mans Cup has moved on in both quality and quantity since last year, but I have faith that Alex and Ross can pick up from there they left off and fight for some solid results well inside the top ten.
“For John (Farano) and Job (van Uitert), I hope for a significant upturn in fortunes after a troubled outing in the Le Mans Cup ‘Road to Le Mans’ races. As always, their pace was undeniable and Job’s experience at the Red Bull Ring should make him a force to be reckoned with, especially in the European Le Mans Series. Job, John and Rob (Garofall) deserve another victory and the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring is perhaps their best opportunity since the season-opener in Le Castellet.”
The first European Le Mans Series free practice session is scheduled for 11.15 and the Bronze Collective Test at 16.35 on Friday (20 July), with FP2 at 9.15 and LMP2 qualifying at 14.20 on Saturday (21 July), and the headlining 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring at 12.00 on Sunday (22 July).
A pair of Michelin Le Mans Cup free practice sessions will take place at 10.00 and 15.20 on Friday (20 July), and LMP3 qualifying at 12.15 will precede the 120-minute race at 16.00 on Saturday (21 July).