CEFC Manor TRS Racing’s sporting director Graeme Lowdon has confirmed to DSC that the driver squad for its #24 ORECA 07 Gibson will have a new look for the 6 Hours of Mexico, the fifth round of the 2017 FIA WEC season.
The team will race with ELMS DragonSpeed racer Ben Hanley – who drove with TDS Racing at Spa and G-Drive Racing at the Nürburgring – ex-F1 driver Jean Eric Vergne and Signatech Alpine’s Matt Rao, who returns to Manor after parting ways with the French team after the trip to Germany.
Rao raced with Manor last season, before moving to Alpine for 2017. Rao left the team after a decision which DSC believes was made after Le Mans. As it stands Andre Negrao – who drove in Alpine’s second A470 at Spa, Le Mans and the Nürburgring, will take the British driver’s seat for Mexico in the #36 Alpine A470 alongside Nicolas Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes.
“I know the guys at Manor well,” Rao told DSC. “We kept a good relationship after the back end of last year when we parted ways, so when I moved on from Alpine I spoke to Graeme Lowdon as my first choice. With the improvements they’ve made over the winter and the performances they’ve had this year, I believe we can fight at the front.”
This means that Jonathan Hirschi, Tor Graves and Roberto Merhi will not race with the team in the #24 as a trio like they did at the Nürburgring. Though DSC understands that Graves will still be a part of the effort going forward.
The 2017 6 Hours of Mexico is set to run on the 3rd of September in Mexico City.