Oxford racing driver James Walker has been signed up to race Ferrari’s new GT car, the Ferrari 458, in the 2011 Le Mans Series.
He will line-up with double Le Mans Series GT2 Champion, Rob Bell, in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari when the season starts at Paul Ricard, in France, on April 3.
The Le Mans Series is a season of five 1000km sportscar races. The competition is fierce and there is a lot at stake as the top finishers receive an automatic entry into the following year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
“I can’t wait for the 2011 season to start now,” said Walker. “The switch to sportscars has come at a great time for me. I had a taste of it at Daytona and I know it’s the direction I want my career to take. This switch opens up a whole new world of racing that ultimately will include big events like the Le Mans 24 Hours and I’m hugely excited about it all.”
Walker will be racing in the LM GTE Pro class. This is the top GT class where Ferraris go head to head with Porsches and Aston Martins and big name drivers, including ex-F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella. JMW Motorsport is already a championship-winning team so Walker is in the best place for Le Mans Series success.
“I've followed JMW Motorsport’s progress over the last few years and I am very impressed,” said Walker. “It will be an honour to drive for them this year and also great to team up with Rob Bell. I got to know him a bit better at Daytona this year and I can already see that we will have a great working partnership.
“The new Ferrari 458 will be a fantastic car to drive and I can't wait until I get to drive it for the first time,” he continued. “This is going to be a very important year for me, as I know we will have the package at JMW Motorsport, along with Ferrari and Dunlop, to challenge for the Le Mans Series championship."
Although he was born in Jersey, Walker left his family home ten years ago and moved to Oxford to pursue a career as a racing driver. After a successful run in Formula Ford, Formula 3, World Series by Renault and Superleague Formula, the 27 year-old is switching to sportscars this year.
As a long-time resident of North Oxford, Walker is delighted that local businesses are supporting him as he begins a new chapter of his racing career.
B-Line Business Supplies has already seen the value of being associated with Walkeres, as managing director Phil Beesley explained: “With our core services around stationery, print and furniture, we know that networking works well for our business.
“Being involved with James gives us more opportunities to introduce our business colleagues to each other — whilst having some fun building relationships, both at track days and enjoying the full VIP treatment at Silverstone.”
Another recent Oxford-based sponsor is Aeriandi, who provide solutions for retail banking, insurance, outsourcing specialists and health care providers. Aeriandi chief executive Matthew Bryars said: “Seeing our Liquid logo displayed on James Walker’s car at Daytona proved a real talking point. We also had a lot of fun at the track day with James so we know our clients and prospects will really enjoy the whole VIP experience this season.”
The first race of the 2011 Le Mans Series takes place at Paul Ricard on April 3. This is followed by races at Spa in May, Imola in July, a UK round at Silverstone in September and then the season finale at Estoril later that month.