PARIS: Retired Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello will make his debut driving in the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race, it was confirmed on Thursday.
The Brazilian will share the wheel of a Dutch entry with Jan Lammers, the 1988 winner with Jaguar.
“I’m delighted to hear that we have been accepted for my 23rd Le Mans and Racing Team Netherlands’ first entry,” former F1 driver Lammer told Britain’s Autosport magazine online edition.
“We are extremely proud to enter some Brazilian flavour into Le Mans,” he added.
They will be driving a Dallara LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) car that the pair have already started testing.
While this will be Barrichello’s first taste of Le Mans, the 44-year-old has completed three editions of the Daytona 24 Hour, finishing runner-up last year.
The former Ferrari ace retired from F1 in 2011 after 11 wins.
The 85th running of motor sport’s mythic race will be staged without the participation of Audi.
The German auto giant announced in October they were pulling out of the world endurance championship to focus on Formula E.
Audi won Le Mans 13 times between 2000 and 2014 but the last two years saw them usurped by Porsche.
Barrichello follows in the footsteps of other F1 stars to be drawn to Le Mans including Mark Webber, the Australian who on June 17 will be acting as a marshall and official starter.
In total, 60 cars were accepted on Thursday for the race that attracts a crowd of 250,000 petrol heads to the circuit.
Among the list of proposed drivers are F1 legend Alain Prost’s son Nicolas, Nelson Piquet Jr. and footballer Fabien Barthez, the 1998 French World Cup winner who returns in a Ligier.
Denmark’s Christina Nelson is the only female driver.
Toyota is set to compete with three cars as they try to gain revenge on Porsche after the agony of leading last year’s race only for their car to pack up in the closing lap.
“No one will forget last year’s race,” said Pierre Fillon, the brother of French presidential candidate Francois Fillon and president of ACO, the local Sarthe region’s automobile club.
“The Le Mans 24 Hours remains the holy grail which all the [endurance]drivers want to win,” he added.