British driver Matt Rao has his eyes on the third Signatech Alpine seat for the 2016 LMP2 champion’s 2017 WEC two-car Oreca 07 programme.
Rao, who raced with Manor WEC last year in the championship, has been testing with the French team at Motorland Aragon in the Dunlop tyre test this week, as he continues to pursue a seat for a second season in the series.
“I have a great relationship with Alpine after doing the Bahrain Rookie Test in 2015 with them,” Rao said in conversation with DSC. “It would be great to work with them again. They won the championship last year, they’ll be contenders this year even with LMP2 being extra competitive again.
“I hope to work with them going forward, if not this year, then in the future.”
At Aragon with Alpine in its Oreca 07, it’s also been an opportunity for him to get his first taste of the new-for-2017 LMP2 cars.
“Here at Aragon its also about me getting a run in a new LMP2 and proving what I can do,” he continued. “A lot of the people in the paddock have driven more powerful cars than the new LMP2s, so they can adapt quicker because they have experience in series like GP2 and World Series. To me, getting extra time in a car on a test like this is just a way of getting to that level, having only driven Formula 3 before LMP2.”
Whether or not a deal with Alpine comes off this year for Rao, he feels that the WEC is still where he wants to be going forward.
“Career wise, the WEC this year in particular is where I want to be, it’s going to be really competitive,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a bit more air time on TV too because LMP1 has thinned out a little.
“For any LMP2 driver, the WEC is the place to be, it’s the best endurance championship out there, and there’s nothing like it in terms of calendar and exposure.”