Rossi joins 18 F1 drivers on Le Mans grid

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Aspiring American Formula One driver Alexander Rossi (pictured with NBC’s Will Buxton) will join 18 Formula One drivers on the starting grid for the 81st running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Rossi will drive a Zytek Z11SN-Nissan run by Greaves Motorsport and backed by the Caterham Formula One team in the LMP2 class. The American driver will drive for Caterham in first practice for the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday before heading to France to prepare for his Le Mans bid. Rossi also races for their team in F1 feeder series GP2.

Several drivers who recently lost their F1 seats will make their first appearances at Le Mans. Kamui Kobayashi, who was dropped by Sauber at the end of 2012, will drive a Ferrari 458 Italia GT car for their AF Corse team.

Lucas di Grassi, who raced for Virgin in 2010 and has tested F1 tyres for Pirelli, will make his Le Mans debut for Audi. The German manufacturer has won the race 11 times in the last 13 years and is bidding for overall honours in the LMP1 category again.

Toyota are likely to provide Audi’s strongest competition and five of their six drivers have F1 experience: Alexander Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.

Ex-HRT driver Karun Chandhok will return to Le Mans hoping to improve on the impressive sixth place he scored on his debut last year. He drives an Oreca run by Murphy Prototypes in the LMP2 category.

Chandhok’s former team mate Bruno Senna, who lost his seat at Williams at the end of last year, will make his second appearance at Le Mans. Senna drives for Aston Martin in the GT class.