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by David Zalstein

Caterham will make its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race later this month as the company continues to build its brand ahead of the launch of its all-new model in 2016.

Racing under the banner of Caterham Motorsport, the British sports car manufacturer will compete in the LMP2 category at Le Mans while also using the event to investigate the viability of producing a future Sports Prototype package for private customers.

The move into Le Mans competition follows Caterham’s step up into Formula One in 2012, which has continued in 2013, and the announcement in November 2012 of an alliance with Renault to develop and build affordable sports cars that will result in Caterham’s first new road-going model in 20 years and the revival of the Alpine name killed off by the French manufacturer in 1994.

Piloting Caterham’s #41 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan LMP2 car will be the team’s Formula 1 reserve driver Alexander Rossi, alongside Tom Kimber-Smith and Eric Lux.

Caterham Technology CEO Mike Gascoyne, whose previous employers include F1 teams McLaren, Sauber and Renault, said the Caterham team has the tools, the talent and the heritage to do the job.

“While there won’t be any specification changes we can apply to the car for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, because the car is homologated for the whole season, we will be looking in more detail at how our various areas of expertise across both Caterham Technology and Innovation and Caterham Composites can be applied to a customer Sports Prototype program in future.”

This year’s 81st running of the iconic French endurance race will be held at the Circuit de la Sarthe from June 22, and also marks the return of the first factory-backed SRT Viper since 2000.