The Status Grand Prix GP3 team has announced that it is to acquire a new 2012 specification Lola B12/80 Coupe, so that it can commence an LMP2 sports car programme this year, with the aim of competing in next year's full FIA World Endurance Championship.

"This is a significant step for the team and perfectly complements our important GP3 activity as we seek to develop parallel racing programmes up to World Championship level in the future," said team founder Mark Gallagher, speaking at the Autosport International show in Birmingham. "We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Lola over the last eight years and believe this is an exciting time to enter the world of sports prototype racing."

"We are delighted to welcome Status GP into the Lola LMP family," said Martin Birrane, Executive Chairman of the Lola Group. "Like Lola, Status GP shares a determined and professional approach in the business of going racing and have proved to be winners ... We very much look forward to a long and successful partnership with them on the global sports car stage."

Status GP was founded in 2005, and operated the Ireland franchise in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport when the country won the championship with driver Adam Carroll. After the subsequent demise of A1GP, Status GP moved into the inaugural GP3 season in 2010 and took four wins and eight podiums on its way to finishing as runner-up in both the drivers championship (with Robert Wickens) and the team standings.

The team was quick to stress that the new LMP2 initiative did not mean that there would any downgrading of the team's commitment to its GP3 single-seater programme, with the new programme being operated from expanded premises by a dedicated crew of experienced sports car engineers and technicians.

Status GP has previously been a technical partner operating both GT1 and LMP2 cars on a sub-contract basis, competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2006 and 2011 and also running cars in FIA GT and Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge events, but this is the first time it will field its own entry.

Announcements concerning key technical partners and driver line up will be made when the 2012 test and race programme is finalised.