Ex-F1 driver Petrov joins SMP Racing for 2016 WEC season

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Former Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov will move into the FIA World Endurance Championship next season with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Petrov raced for Renault and Caterham in F1 between 2010 and 2012, becoming the first Russian driver to race in the series and recording a best finish of third in the 2011 Australian Grand Prix.

After taking a year out of racing in 2013, Petrov moved into DTM with Mercedes for 2014, but failed to score any points.

Now, the Russian will prepare to make his WEC debut with SMP Racing, which will expand its involvement in the LMP2 class of the championship with its BR Engineering cars in 2016.

SMP Racing unveiled Petrov at its end of year press conference in Russia earlier this week, confirming that he will race one of two LMP2 cars to be entered into the WEC.

It also announced that Petrov will be joining its development programme that looks to help young Russian drivers move up the motorsport ladder.

“Friends! I want to tell you the news – I will spend 2016 with SMP Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship!” Petrov wrote on Instagram.

“I want to personally thank Boris Romanovich Rothenberg for giving me the opportunity to fly the Russian flag in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race.”

Petrov’s arrival on SMP Racing’s endurance programme follows Mikhail Aleshin’s return to IndyCar for 2016, when he will race for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Petrov may not have raced in the WEC before, but he has one previous appearance at Le Mans, taking part in the 2007 race for Noël del Bello Racing.