Last year’s GP2 Series runner-up Sam Bird is to compete in three rounds of the new United SportsCar Championship this season for Starworks Motorsport.
Bird, a Mercedes F1 junior and reserve driver, will race in the Prototype Challenge category (LMPC) at this month’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. He is also set to feature for Starworks at the 12 Hours of Sebring (March) and Petit Le Mans (October).
With an opportunity in Formula One now unlikely to manifest itself, a slot in the USCC will do much to introduce Bird to a new market.
The Englishman has been chasing a seat in the IndyCar Series for the 2014 season and a competitive showing in Daytona could do much to enhance those efforts – should the sponsorship be in place.
After a GP2 campaign that saw him lose out to Fabio Leimer despite taking five race victories with the new RUSSIAN TIME squad, it marks a positive start to the year for Bird. He remarked, “I am very pleased to have confirmed this three race program with Starworks and I would like to thank Peter Baron for giving me this opportunity.”
Bird, who turns 27 years next week, then expanded on those comments by revealing: “This will be my first foray into LMP endurance racing as well as my first time competing in America, so it’s a ‘double first.’ My management and I are continuing to consider various opportunities for a more comprehensive racing program. Quite a few interesting avenues are open to us across a range of racing disciplines and we expect to make further announcements.”
Starworks owner and Team Principal, Peter Baron, was initially surprised by Bird’s availability following his 2013 GP2 campaign; however the American is convinced Bird can build a future in the US. “I was stunned to learn that Sam was available and looking to North America for new opportunities,” said Baron. He added, “We’ve been fairly successful in bringing open-wheel drivers into sports car racing and tapping into that talent. I’m looking forward to working with a driver like Sam who brings a lot of experience with him from some big teams and can contribute heavily to our program.”
Bird’s selection of races means that he will compete in three of the four events in the North American Endurance Championship schedule. At this point, it is unknown whether he will be available to race at the ‘6 Hours of the Glen’ at Watkins Glen in June.
The three-day ‘Roar Before the 24’ test commenced at Daytona International Speedway earlier today.