ECO Racing has chosen Firestone Indy Lights regular Andrew Prendeville to partner experienced Japanese driver Hideki Noda in the team's much-hyped debut in the final round of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca next weekend.
The British team will take its ground-breaking, production-engined bio-diesel-powered LMP1 class Radical-AER to California for a belated first appearance in the series, and has sprung something of a surprise by picking Prendeville, a sportscar virgin, for the outing.
"After testing successfully over the past two months in the UK, I am delighted that ECO Racing will be at Laguna Seca, one of the great race tracks and a real challenge for our car in its debut event," founder Ian Dawson said, "The team and our partners, Radical and AER, have worked very hard to create the best possible baseline for us to begin our journey into 2009.
"I am also very pleased that we have a very strong driver line-up in Hideki and Andrew. We have a great mix of experience and speed."
Dawson raced the first bio-diesel sportscar at Le Mans in 2004, two full years ahead of the debut of Audi's diesel racer and three years ahead of diesel-powered rival Peugeot, and, since that time, has continued to develop the production car-based V10 engine, creating a partnership with D1 Oils to use the Jatropha-based bio-diesel fuel, made from the drought-resistant, inedible oilseed curcas tree of the same name.
While Noda appears a safe choice for ECO, Las Vegas-based Prendeville, who has raced competitively in the Firestone Indy Lights Series for the past two seasons, will be making his sportscar debut in the #10 machine.
"I think this is going to be a very interesting weekend for me," the 27-year old New Jersey native admitted, "The American Le Mans Series is very intense this year, but I'm very excited to be teaming up with Hideki Noda, ECO Racing, Matt Connolly Motorsport and P1 Groupe to make this all come together. This is a very intriguing opportunity, and I'm hopeful for a positive outcome."
Noda raced in F1 and IndyCars before making a home for himself in sportscars, and the 39-year old is delighted, not only to be a part of the ECO project, but also to be returning to Laguna Seca.
"I am honoured and excited to be joining ECO Racing at the final round of the American Le Mans Series," he said, "The Radical-AER SR10 is in its final stages of development, and I am honoured to be chosen as a driver to be part of the development process.
"I haven't run Laguna Seca since 1997, but it is a challenging track, and I am looking forward to racing there. The ALMS is a competitive series, and I would like to take this opportunity to see what I can do in the ALMS and make it a race that will be a good start for the next season."