Frenchman Pierre Ragues has signed to contest the top class of both the 2009 Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 Hours with the Signature team .

The 23-year old drove an LMP2 car with some success in this year's Le Mans Series, but will step up to the Bourges-based Signature team's LMP1 machine in 2009 as the F3 expert branches out into endurance racing for the first time with an ORECA-Judd.

Having raced his way up the single-seater ladder from karts to Formula Master - where he was a regular podium finisher - Ragues switched his attention to sportscars in the past year, eventually testing Signature's LMP1 car for the first time at Paul Ricard earlier this month.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me to graduate to the very top level of sportscar racing and I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen," he said, "This is a new adventure for Signature and myself, but I completely trust the professionalism of the team, which was obvious from the moment that we first met.

"Of course, there is a lot of competition in the top LMP1 category, but we are all looking forward to the challenge and I believe that the car will be extremely competitive. I'd like to thank Saulnier Racing for having put together such a fantastic season in LMP2 this year, which has prepared me well for everything to come in 2009."

Ragues' team-mate in the single-car entry is due to be announced shortly, before the duo embarks on a test programme prior to the first round of the season.

"We are very pleased to have secured Pierre's services for 2009, as he has already marked himself out as a real star of the future," Signature team principal Philippe Sinault said, "He also has experience of the Le Mans Series from the past, which will be very useful as we embark on our first year in this championship."



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