Despite planning to call time on its sportscar programme this season, Team Essex has revealed that it will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with its Porsche RS Spyder in 2009.
The team put its car up for sale at the end of the 2008 season and was set to close its doors but has been unable to sell the RS Spyder it campaigned last year due to the current economic climate – which has made finding a buyer difficult.
With Porsche also keen to see the car running at La Sarthe in the summer, and with backing onboard from a number of Danish sponsors, the team will now run the car in selected events this season and at Le Mans with the focus on going for victory in the LMP2 class.
Porsche will provide financial support to the programme and will also supply staff in the shape of mechanics, engineers, data-logging personnel as well as a team manager. Porsche factory driver Emanuel Collard is also at the team's disposal in 2009 while the car will run on Michelin tyres.
Casper Elgaard will return alongside Collard while Kristian Poulsen will take on the role of third driver. Having previously announced that he wouldn't be driving this season, there will be no role for John Nielsen in the new Le Mans programme although he remains part of the Team Essex set-up.
“Kristian Poulsen will be testing with Casper Elgaard and Emanuel Collard, and the two drivers will teach him everything they know about the Porsche, and then it is up to Kristian to prove that we were right in choosing him as our third driver at Le Mans,” team owner Peter Halvorsen said. “We believe that we will be able to do things better than last year, where we finished runner-up, and with this set-up we have good possibilities to get to the top. It is nice to see that the two other Porsche cars are in the race as well as all the other strong teams in the LMP2 class despite of the financial climate – so the excitement is guaranteed and we will be having a thrill of a race.”
The team will take part in the Le Mans Series tests at Paul Ricard and Le Mans and then the opening LMS round at Spa ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours itself.