RLR MSport will contest the 2022 Michelin Le Mans Cup with Tommy Foster, who will be partnered by British Am Martin Rich until ‘Racing Reverend’ Simon Butler takes his place from the Monza Round onwards.

Foster was an established race winner in junior single-seaters in both the UK and the USA before taking a hiatus from competitive motorsport in 2020.

However, three speculative LMP3 tests with RLR MSport prompted the Newquay, Cornwall racer to move across from Formula 4 to Le Mans Prototypes, and, in 2021, he continued amassing victories, as a partial Le Mans Cup campaign began with a first-place finish in the Barcelona curtain-raiser.

This time, 19-year old Foster has committed to a full season in the Le Mans Cup, and he’s confident that security will result in consistently strong performances and provide the foundations required for a full-scale title attack.

“I’m really looking forward to hitting the ground running in the 2022 Michelin Le Mans Cup,” said Foster. “RLR MSport and I started the 2021 season absolutely perfectly, peaking early with a victory. Unfortunately, the latter part of the year didn’t go our way, but that’s motorsport. I now have much more experience in LMP3 and, being secure in the knowledge that we have a full season together lifts a lot of pressure and will enable me to perform at my best with a focus on the championship title.

“I’m really happy at RLR MSport; it isn’t often that I’ve gone to a team and liked every person there, but I really do like everyone because they’re hard working and straightforward with a desire to win. In fact, the team’s determination eggs me on.”

Foster added: “I’m also looking forward to visiting a new circuit, with Imola joining the calendar. Most competitors will go there with little or no experience, which will level the playing field, and it’ll be fun learning the tracks and finding setups. Of course, racing in support of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be a highlight, too.”

Rich, a fixture of historic motor racing paddocks who has long raced with teammate Butler, has gained heaps of LMP3 experience since joining RLR MSport for the 2019 European Le Mans Series, most recently contesting the 2021 Le Mans Cup ‘Road to Le Mans’ races.

However, the London-based driver feels he has much more to give, saying: “I always intended to go racing this year, but it was just a matter of finding the right way to do it, and this is the beginning of what I hope will be a very exciting journey. The Michelin Le Mans Cup entry is as strong as ever, but Tommy (Foster) is incredibly quick and I have no doubt he’ll be at the very front end of the grid from the outset in Le Castellet.

“I’m also confident I can hold my own against the other Bronze drivers, as I now have quite a bit of experience with LMP3 machinery in various championships. Having said that, there is definitely scope for me to extract even more from myself, but one of RLR MSport’s great strengths is producing a very good baseline setup – as a Bronze driver, it gives me confidence knowing that the car is in a good place – and I believe we will be capable of competing for podiums, or even race wins.”

While Rich will race for RLR MSport in the Le Castellet, Imola and ‘Road to Le Mans’ Rounds, vicar and Bronze driver Butler will pick up the baton at Monza in July.

The ‘Racing Reverend’ – the only ordained priest racing driver – has competed in various disciplines over a period of 25 years, having started in karts in 1996 before progressing to single-seaters and then turning his attention to historic competition.

Butler has had great success in a host of sports and GT cars from the Fifties and Sixties, winning the RAC Woodcote Trophy in 2014 and participating in the Silverstone Classic, Goodwood Revival and Spa 6 Hours, to name but a few.

However, 2022 marks his comeback to contemporary machinery and, while on-track testing will commence in the spring, off-track preparations for his maiden LMP3 campaign are already well underway.

“I’ve taken myself back to the gym and I’m doing four sessions a week with my personal trainer to build up a decent level of strength and fitness in readiness for my first season of LMP3 racing,” said Butler. “The next few weeks will be spent learning the tracks on the simulator and the plan is to then embark on an intense testing programme from April onwards.

“Although I’ve driven ‘wings and slicks’ single-seaters before, the last ten years have all been in historics, so my aim is to simply reacclimatise to contemporary racecars and perform at a respectable level as an Am. I’m conscious that Tommy (Foster) is very quick and has already had success in LMP3, and I want to be up to speed as quickly as possible so we’re a package that’s capable of fighting at the front.”

Butler continued: “Martin (Rich) is a good friend and there’s usually nothing to choose between us whenever we compete, and he will be there to give advice, encouragement and gentle mocking along the way. However, I’m going to attend the first three rounds of the season to sit in on engineering and strategy meetings and understand how we can develop the car, to ensure I’m fully up-to-speed in all areas when I finally go racing myself.”