Stoffel Vandoorne says he “always had an eye” on the FIA World Endurance Championship as he prepares to make his debut in the series this weekend at Spa.

Ex-McLaren Formula 1 driver Vandoorne has joined LMP1 team SMP Racing for the last two rounds of the WEC season, with the finale coming at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Speaking on Thursday, Vandoorne said he had always kept endurance racing in mind, making it an easy call to jump at the opportunity to link up with SMP Racing for Spa and Le Mans.

“I’ve always had an eye on this type of racing, especially if you have the chance to do Le Mans with an LMP1 team. It’s not nothing,” Vandoorne said.

“It’s quite a big deal. Le Mans is one of the biggest races in the world. When I was in junior series, I was always following the race, I was watching it when I was sitting at home.

“To participate now will be a huge challenge. I think this is the ultimate test for a driver, because you can have every condition, and managing traffic. We’ll see how it will go.

“It will be something completely new, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Vandoorne has added the two WEC appearances to his full-time race programme in Formula E, where he races for HWA Racelab, as well as serving as one of Mercedes’ F1 simulator drivers.

However, the Belgian remained coy when asked if he would look for a more permanent programme in the WEC in the future.

“We’ll see,” Vandoorne said.

“I think before I was always saying, maybe [I’ll do] Le Mans. It has always been a race that I’ve been interested in doing, but I was not kind of expecting it to come so early.

“I’m very pleased that I got the opportunity to do it. I think it’s a unique opportunity to do it in an LMP1 car as well. It will be a great experience.

“We’ll see what the future will bring. It’s hard to predict.”

Vandoorne’s move into the WEC follows that of former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, who made his debut at Spa last year with Toyota and currently leads the drivers’ championship.

“[Alonso] sent me a message as soon as it was announced that I was going to participate at Spa and Le Mans,” Vandoorne said.

“Fernando’s had a good experience with Toyota, and had a successful time there. He’s been enjoying being here a lot, and he just wanted to share his thoughts and his opinions about this championship, so we’ll see. I’m excited.”

Saturday's race will mark Vandoorne's first sports car outing since 2013, when he took part in an FIA GT Series event in Baku behind the wheel of a McLaren MP4-12C.