Algarve Pro Racing have today announced that Olivier Pla will join the team’s European Le Mans effort for the remaining four rounds, starting with the 4 Hours of Barcelona (19-20 July), stepping into the breach left by the injured Mark Patterson alongside Andrea Pizzitola and John Falb.
“I’m really looking forward to joining Algarve Pro Racing and to share the #25 ORECA 07 LMP2 with John (Falb) and Andrea (Pizzitola).” said the French ace. “I think we have the same expectations and I’m sure together we will push in the same direction to score some strong results during the remaining four races at Barcelona, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Portimao.”
Falb welcomes Pla’s arrival and is brimming with optimism, saying: “I am extremely excited that Olivier (Pla) is joining Andrea (Pizzitola) and I for the balance of the season. He brings so much experience and pace to the programme, I am confident it will be reflected in our results. I have a lot to learn about the Dunlop tyres and ORECA 07 to get the speed out of the car, and Olivier will help us maximise the potential much quicker. With four races left, there is still a lot to play for and we will certainly be aiming for the top step.”
Algarve Pro Racing Team Principal, Stewart Cox, said: “We’re excited that Olivier (Pla) will be joining Algarve Pro Racing for the rest of the 2019 European Le Mans season. We wished Mark Patterson could be with us at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and his presence will be missed for the rest of the year, but Olivier is a Champion and a safe pair of hands who will represent Algarve Pro Racing and Mark well, while helping John (Falb) get the most from himself and the ORECA.”
Pla’s car racing career began in single-seaters at the turn of the Millennium, a Formula Renault Campus France outing preceding a diverse Formula 3 programme that spanned Europe.
Highlights included a second-place result in the international Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort, a third place in the F3 European Championship and victory in the International F3 Korea Grand Prix, but his talent took him all the way to the GP2 Series, just one step from Formula 1.
It was in 2008 that Pla switched to endurance sportscar racing; that year, the Toulouse-based racer made his first of many 24 Hours of Le Mans appearances, but he would most notably win the Le Mans Series (LMS) LMP2 Championship the following season in 2009.
Four years in the LMS’s LMP2 division were interspersed with successful American Le Mans Series (ALMS) campaigns, although he has since become a stalwart of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), most recently racing as part of Ford’s works LMGTE programme, led by Chip Ganassi Racing.
However, Pla has maintained a strong presence in Le Mans Prototype competition, twice finishing runner-up in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, before winning Petit Le Mans in 2016.