Nevada born TJ Bell will drive the British sportscar marque Ascari at this years 24 Hours of Le Mans, joining Briton Ben Collins and South African Werner Lupberger as the team looks to take on the might of the German and American manufacturers. The 21 year old put in an impressive performance in the recent Le Mans practice day despite never previously racing there. In the morning he recorded quicker times than any other rookie and proved that he is talented and a fast learner.
It had been anticipated that one of the seats in the now reduced one car entry would be occupied by Team Principal Klaas Zwart, who drove in the 2001 event, but in a show of loyalty to TJ Bell - the first driver to sign for Team Ascari for the 2020 season - and in view of his impressive performances at Sebring and Le Mans practice, Zwart has offered to stand down in favour of the young American.
With the driver line-up now complete, Team Ascari - based in Banbury, England - is undergoing its final preparations and test this week to ensure the readiness of its drivers and car. The Ascari KZR1 has, since the Le Mans practice day, been testing with an all new transmission and rear suspension to improve reliability and maximise grip along with the new tyre partner Dunlop. A noticeable improvement in down force has been achieved with the revisions, which should see benefits on the long straights at Le Mans.
TJ Bell, Driver, Team Ascari:
"I'm delighted to be confirmed as an Ascari driver at Le Mans. Having never driven at Le Mans before I was pleased with my performance at the practice day and I believe that we will offer some of the big factory teams a run for their money. I can't wait to get behind the wheel!"
Ian Dawson, Race Director, Team Ascari:
"We are delighted that TJ has the opportunity to drive for Team Ascari at Le Mans, although at the loss of Klaas whom makes all this possible. TJ is young, shows great promise and is very quick to learn. He performed well at the Le Mans practice day and will be an asset tot he team as we set our sights on a top 5 finish. We are moving into the final stages of testing and will arrive at La Sarthe with a strong package - car and drivers - in the knowledge that we can take on the might of the large factory teams. For a British marque racing at Le Mans for only the second time it will be difficult to win the event but Team Ascari has come a long way in such a short space of time and people are beginning to take note of the engineering and performance of the Ascari marque."