SMP Racing has named Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin as part of its line-up for the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship 'super season' when the Russian team will debut in the LMP1 class.

SMP Racing unveiled its new BR Engineering-designed car, the BR1, at last year's WEC season finale in Bahrain after taking a year out of the series in order to prepare for the step up to the premier class.

The state-backed team will enter two cars to the WEC's 'super season', with Aleshin and Petrov being named as the first two drivers for its line-up that will feature a further four names once complete.

Aleshin raced for SMP Racing in last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans in tandem with his commitments in IndyCar, but has switched focus to endurance racing for 2018, while ex-Formula 1 racer Petrov was part of the team's last full-time WEC line-up through 2016 before racing for Manor last year.

"The upcoming season will not be easy for us, and I'm sure spectacular for Russian fans," said Boris Rotenberg, founder and head of SMP Racing.

"For the first time in the history of the World Championship, Russian drivers will perform in the highest class - LMP1 - on Russian cars. Our racers have not only the experience of driving prototypes, but also participated in the development of this machine and know it from the ground up.

"I invite all motorsport fans to support the Russian team, the Russian drivers and the Russian car!"

Both Aleshin and Petrov have already played a significant role in developing the BR1 through private testing alongside fellow SMP Racing drivers Kirill Ladygin and Victor Shaytar, as well as recently-announced Williams F1 driver, Sergey Sirotkin.

Crash.net understands SMP Racing has offered a role to Williams development driver Robert Kubica, who lost out to Sirotkin in the battle for the F1 race seat with the British team for 2018.

Kubica was due to make his FIA WEC debut last year with the ByKolles LMP1 squad, only to quit on the eve of the championship opener at Silverstone after the team completed just six laps in pre-season testing due to recurring issues with its car.

The new WEC season kicks off at Spa on May 6.

 

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