RLR MSport returns to the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) in 2023, with Jack Manchester, Andres Latorre and Valdemar Eriksen sharing the #5 Ligier JSP320 LMP3, and Mateusz Kaprzyk, Gael Julien and Horst Felbermayr Jr in the #15 car.
Manchester laid foundations in Radical Sportscars and GT3-spec machinery between 2016 and 2018, winning the overall Silver Cup and Silver Sprint Cup in the Blancpain GT Series before moving across to the ELMS the following year in 2019.
Unfortunately, his maiden LMP2 campaign was disrupted by a violent free practice shunt at Silverstone that resulted in broken ribs, but the British racer later enjoyed two victories and a further two podium finishes on his Asian Le Mans Series debut, dramatically missing out on the title by a single point.
However, the 24-year-old will rejoin the ELMS grid as part of RLR MSport’s #5 LMP3 roster, and he said: “I am incredibly excited for the 2023 season with RLR MSport, driving alongside Andres (Latorre) and Valdemar (Eriksen) in the European Le Mans Series. I cannot wait for Round 1 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and I’m delighted to be competing once again in top-flight motorsport.”
Latorre, who is currently revving up for the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series, raced karts with coaching from ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar star Juan Pablo Montoya in his youth but only recently returned to competitive motorsport.
Outings in a Ferrari F430 Scuderia, Maserati GT4 and Fiat Abarth 695 Assetto Corse preceded a switch to LMP3 in 2021, when the Colombian twinned appearances in the Australian Prototype Series with the Michelin Le Mans Cup, in which he achieved a maiden career podium at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Imola.
However, having signed up for RLR MSport’s return to the Asian Le Mans Series, Latorre will remain with the squad as he realises a long-held dream of competing in the ELMS.
“For me, it’s a dream come true to elevate from the Michelin Le Mans Cup to the European Le Mans Series,” said Latorre. “In my opinion, the ELMS is right up at the top of the sportscar racing ladder with the FIA World Endurance Championship, and it’s a great step in my motorsport career.
“I’ve been keen to move up to the headlining category with the great support RLR MSport provides and, with two very talented Silver drivers in Jack (Manchester) and Valdemar (Eriksen) alongside me in the #5 Ligier, I’m hopeful that we can be very competitive. We’re just entering the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series and the whole purpose is to warm up for the European season, and I’m really excited to be part of both categories.”
Completing RLR MSport’s #5 trio will be Denmark-born, USA-raised Eriksen, who was only nine when he won his first karting title in his home state of California.
The 20-year-old has a race-winning background in Danish and Spanish Formula 4, and MRF Challenge single-seaters, but he has more recently been focused on GT3 racing as a participant of both GT World Challenge Europe and the Danish Endurance Challenge, which he dominated to be crowned Champion in 2021.
All set for his Le Mans Prototype debut in the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series, Eriksen is sure the experience will serve him well for the forthcoming European season with RLR MSport.
“I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming season and to my debut in the European Le Mans Series,” said Eriksen. “I expect it to be a challenging year with a new car, team and teammates, but I hope we can bring home good results with some hard work. I’m especially looking forward to getting to know Jack (Manchester) and Andres (Latorre), and to working closely with RLR MSport as part of a bigger plan, where LMP3 is only the beginning.”
In the sister #15 Ligier will be Kaprzyk, who secured karting titles in his native Poland prior to his car racing debut in 2019, when he dovetailed a podium-yielding Porsche Sprint Challenge Central Europe campaign with the Ultimate Cup Series.
His career path extended to the 2020 F4 Italian Championship, but he has since laid down strong roots in Le Mans Prototypes after two seasons in the ELMS’s super competitive LMP3 division, where he will stay as part of RLR MSport’s line-up.
“I’ve learnt so much and made a lot of progress over the last two years, so I feel ready to make that next step towards the podium,” said Kaprzyk. “RLR MSport has everything that we need to challenge at the front – experience, a great car and a very capable crew – so we’re looking forward to a strong season. I’d also like to thank my partners, PKN ORLEN, as without their support it would have been impossible for my career to progress this quickly.”
For Franco-Indonesian racer Julien, a prolific karting career that began at the age of ten yielded several national and international championship titles across multiple categories in Singapore, Indonesia and the wider Asian continent.
Those successes were a springboard into F4 single-seaters in France and Spain, where he accumulated a victory and four podium finishes, but the 17-year-old is now gearing up for his first foray in Le Mans Prototypes with former LMP3 Teams’ Champion, RLR MSport.
“I’m very happy to announce that I’m joining RLR MSport in the 2023 European Le Mans Series,” said Julien. “The transition from Formula 4 to LMP3 is going to be a learning curve and this is the right environment for me to grow and improve as a driver. Together with the team, I believe we have a strong package that will be capable of running at the front this year.”
Felbermayr Jr, meanwhile, has a long family history in high-level sportscar racing, as his father participated in no fewer than six 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he himself held an ELMS entry for 14 years between 2005 and 2019.
The second-generation racer from Austria returned to the ELMS with RLR MSport in 2022 following a one-off outing with the team in the final round of the 2021 Michelin Le Mans Cup at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, and the 52-year-old is hoping to build on those experiences this year.