Feb 14, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT
With what appeared to be a full lineup at Sauber’s Formula One squad, the news Simona de Silvestro will be joining the team this year as an affiliated driver was a bit of a surprise.
She didn’t seem likely for any of the four remaining full-season IndyCar seats – the second seats at Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Dale Coyne Racing, and the lone seats at Panther Racing or Bryan Herta Autosport.
What made a lot of sense on paper – and something I attempted to project on Twitter last night – was de Silvestro moving ahead with a 2014 sports car program in either the FIA World Endurance Championship or the European Le Mans Series.
Both championships’ entry lists were revealed on Thursday. The timing of her announcement coming today, in Switzerland, on the heels of the presentation in Paris would connect some dots.
It’s served some other ex-open-wheelers, like 2013 Le Mans and WEC LMP2 champs Martin Plowman and Bertrand Baguette for instance, quite well.
Three teams in Rebellion Racing, Newblood by Morand Racing and Race Performance, are Swiss teams confirmed for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Rebellion will compete in the full WEC season with its two new ORECA-designed Rebellion R-One Toyotas in the LMP1-L class; Morand’s Morgan Judd and Race Performance’s ORECA 03 Judd will compete in the ELMS full season in LMP2, and were granted a Le Mans entry in the same class.
There was also Kessel Racing, a Swiss team competing in the GTE class of ELMS with two Ferrari F458 Italias, but without a Le Mans entry for this year.
Because inquiring minds want to know, 9 Sixty Two Media’s Declan Brennan inquired to Rebellion about the potential of de Silvestro racing for the team at Le Mans, and the team responded.
@TheRaceTool With old or current regs Endurance far from F1 on driving side closecockpit weight consumption shared wheel/setup …
— Rebellion Racing (@RebellionRacing) February 14, 2014
@TheRaceTool but the idea is a good one ;-)
— Rebellion Racing (@RebellionRacing) February 14, 2014
Sports car racing is becoming a more popular avenue for drivers to get paid to race if suitable opportunities in single-seaters fail to present themselves.
In any of these teams, de Silvestro would have been committed to a full season of racing, and in three of them, she would have had a shot to race at the most prestigious 24-hour race in the world.
She still could if Sauber is OK with it, now that she’ll be European-based for 2014. It’s an avenue she could explore with great effect.
Three Ferrari F458 Italias are entered in the Le Mans GTE Pro class, and another eight (all 2013-spec or older) are in the GTE Am class.
Where de Silvestro could be hurt is with her FIA driver ranking; as a full-time IndyCar driver, she should be a Platinum-ranked driver, and that would limit her options. The GTE Am class requires at least one Bronze and a second Silver or Bronze-rated driver for two of the three seats.
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