Niklas Krütten and Matt Bell will join Nicolas Maulini at COOL Racing for the 2021 European Le Mans Series. The trio will race together in the team’s new Ligier JS P320 LMP3 entry, spanning six rounds on Europe’s most famous circuits.
18-year-old Krütten has taken his first steps into prototype racing after the German won the Rookie Championship in the 2020 Euroformula Open and finished fifth overall, racing against drivers with several years of experience in Formula 3 machinery. Krütten tested for COOL Racing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Paul Ricard in February and is set to drive the car again before the Official Test ahead of the Barcelona curtain raiser in April.
Bell competed in Michelin Le Mans Cup with COOL Racing in 2020, taking a win at Paul Ricard and two further podiums at the Road to Le Mans. The experienced Brit has raced and succeeded in ELMS LMP3 before, scoring several podiums and victory at Silverstone in 2018.
After winning two races in Michelin Le Mans Cup competing for COOL Racing last season, Maulini was confirmed to be driving the #19 Ligier JS P320 in January. The Swiss racer proved his ability with four pole positions in six rounds last year, helping the team claim the runner-up spot in the standings.
Niklas Krütten: “When I got the offer to join COOL Racing, I didn’t have to think twice. I felt right at home from the initial discussions and the first time I got in the car. The team is super professional and working with them is great fun. I feel we have a line-up and spirit that should allow us to fight for top positions from the get-go. After three years of sprint racing in single seaters, I am very excited about the next step in my career to endurance racing in prototypes. The cars are fantastic and there are so many new things to learn, such as race strategy, pit stops, driver changes and managing the car’s resources – all very important aspects in my development as a driver and my career progression.”
Matt Bell: “The 2021 season is looking very exciting. I was new to COOL Racing last year but we had a really strong campaign, so if we can repeat that with this line-up then we’ll certainly be challenging for the title again. Nicolas just got stronger and stronger throughout 2020, his pace was always the best on the Michelin Le Mans Cup grid. We’ve got exciting expectations if he can carry that form over to ELMS and there’s no reason why he can’t. Niklas has had strong results in some very competitive single-seater categories. He’s been exceptionally quick during pre-season testing. We’re looking to come into ELMS LMP3 with a bang. All the ingredients were there last year, so everyone’s eyes are set on championship victory and nothing less.”
Nicolas Maulini: “I’m delighted to drive this year with both Niklas and Matt in ELMS LMP3. Niklas has achieved strong results in very competitive single-seater championships. The feedback following his four days of testing with the team was incredibly positive, he was comfortable with the car and set quick times despite having no prototype racing experience. Matt is one of the best Silver drivers in the category, his technical feedback is fantastic and he’s fast, so that’s going to help us a lot. I’m really looking forward to working with them.”
Nicolas Lapierre, Managing Director: “We’re delighted to welcome Niklas to the team, it’s great to have a young driver from single seaters so early. Niklas was definitely a talent in F3, he proved that by finishing as best rookie in Euroformula Open in 2020 so we are excited to be racing with him. We already did some testing with Niklas and he showed great pace and a good understanding of the endurance world so I’m really looking forward to having him in the car this year. It’s a very strong combination to partner him with Matt Bell, a very experienced LMP3 racer and the crew’s leader, and Nicolas Maulini who is one of the fastest bronze drivers out there. He’s got a lot of experience, he’s fast and reliable so we’re glad he’s stepping up with us from Michelin Le Mans Cup. It will be our first year in ELMS LMP3 so we will take it step by step, but we have a great line-up to fight at the front.”
European Le Mans Series Calendar
Official Test, Barcelona 12-13 April 2021
4 Hours of Barcelona 17-18 April 2021
4 Hours of Red Bull Ring 15-16 May 2021
4 Hours of Le Castellet 5-6 June 2021
4 Hours of Monza 10-11 July 2021
4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 18-19 September 2021
4 Hours of Portimão 23-24 October 2021