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Vandoorne to race with SMP Racing at Spa and Le Mans

  • Published on 19 Apr 2019 16:25
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  • By: Fergal Walsh

Stoffel Vandoorne will make his debut in the World Endurance Championship next month, racing for SMP Racing.

Brendon Hartley has agreed to step out of the seat to allow the Belgian to race at his home event at Spa-Francorchamps. Vandoorne will link up with Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin for the 6 Hours of Spa in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I am very pleased to join SMP Racing and drive the BR1 #11 prototype in my home race in Spa-Francorchamps and in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans," said Vandoorne.

"The LMP1 cars are really demanding and their performances are very close to Formula 1. I will have the opportunity to re-join ART Grand Prix and a lot of people that I’ve been working with during my successful campaign in GP2.

"Also, it´s great to work alongside such experienced drivers as Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. My objective is to contribute to the Team’s performance and work in collaboration with all drivers to develop the BR1 prototype and to make a good impression.”

Vandoorne raced in F1 for two full seasons with McLaren before taking on a drive in the Formula E series with HWA for the 2018-19 season.

Button made his debut at Le Mans last year, but failed to finish the race with SMP Racing. The 2009 Formula 1 champion says that family commitments and the dominance of Toyota in LMP1 led him to the decision to sit the race out.

“I decided to withdraw from the FIA WEC for the 2019 Le Mans race," Button said.

I really enjoyed driving for SMP Racing and was happy to be on the podium with this team, but I decided that now I need to spend more time at home with my fiancé during her pregnancy rather than two weeks at Le Mans.

"The decision has been made easier for me as I feel that the Toyota is currently unbeatable.”

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