Mike Benham and Alex Kapadia will join Malthe Jakobsen to complete RLR MSport’s 2021 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) driver line-up.
RLR MSport announced that it would retain Jakobsen for the 2021 season in September, having been mightily impressed by the Danish Formula 4 Champion’s talent, maturity and professionalism, and the Motul-powered team has improved its prospects further by signing Benham and Kapadia.
Benham, who began by competing in the GT Cup and International GT Open, has clocked up thousands of kilometres in LMP3 machinery, and in 2019 he accrued three race wins, four podium finishes and one pole position to finish runner-up in the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
However, the 49-year-old comes to RLR MSport off the back of a year-long sabbatical to recover from a heavy shunt that occurred at the end of the 2019 season, and he’s aching to get back behind the wheel of an LMP3 prototype, having recently raced an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series.
“I had a big crash in 2019 and decided to take a bit of time out, missing all the fun and games of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Benham. “I figured I’d never race again if I didn’t return in 2021, and while it was great to get back into a competitive environment in the Asian Le Mans Series, I’ve been particularly excited about joining RLR MSport’s LMP3 line-up in the ELMS.”
“We have a strong driver line-up and it’s great to be sharing a car with drivers as fast and as talented as Malthe (Jakobsen) and Alex (Kapadia). However, as in previous seasons, there are a lot of very quick Bronze drivers on this year’s grid and my task will be to hang on to them as best I can, to hand the car to Malthe and Alex in a reasonable position so we can attack for podium finishes, or even race wins. Physically, I’m as well prepared as I’ve ever been, but I’m beginning to turn the screw even further, taking it up notch ahead of the new European season.”
Kapadia has a long-standing relationship with RLR MSport, and he most recently raced with the Bolton-based team in the 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup and, following a 12-month hiatus, the final round of the 2019 season in Portimao.
It was a victorious return to competitive motor racing that was reminiscent of RLR MSport’s title-winning 2018 ELMS campaign, and Kapadia is back once again with unambiguous intentions, certain the team has all the necessary components to recapture the LMP3 crown.
“RLR MSport proved to be one of the quickest teams in the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series, and I truly believe we’ve got all the ingredients to go for the ELMS LMP3 title,” said Kapadia. “Don’t get me wrong, we’ll face strong opposition, but Mike (Benham) has emerged as a really fast Bronze driver – I’m looking forward to working with someone who’s so engaged and motivated – while Malthe (Jakobsen) is a star of the future and undoubtedly one of the quickest drivers on the grid.
“Also, RLR MSport has winning pedigree and a proven ability to pull off highly effective strategies, and we just need to execute well to challenge for the championship. We’ve had a long lead into the 2021 season, and I’ve been training hard to ensure I’m ready for the year ahead. I cannot wait to get back into a full-time seat in the ELMS.”
Jakobsen added: “I’m really looking forward to racing alongside the same drivers for an entire season, because that consistency makes for a more complete team and will give us the ability to work on your relationships and get more out of the car,” said Jakobsen. “Having Mike (Benham) and Alex (Kapadia) alongside me is exciting, and consistency in our driver line-up will help the entire RLR MSport team.
“I expect everything to be quicker and easier; from analysing on-board footage and data and refining car setups, we’ll all know what we have to work with and, being together week-in-week-out, we can build on that knowledge to get stronger over the course of the season. I believe we have the team to push for big results and the title shouldn’t be beyond our reach, because our qualifying pace and race averages during my rookie season in the ELMS and in the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series were always very strong.”
RLR MSport Director of Motorsport Operations, Nick Reynolds, said: “We’re so pleased to have kept Malthe (Jakobsen) on-board for another year in the European Le Mans Series, and to have Mike (Benham) and Alex (Kapadia) in the same car fills us with a lot of hope and optimism. Malthe has developed considerably over the past 12 months and is always capable of delivering spectacular performances. Mike is incredibly motivated and, as one of the fastest Bronze drivers around, will make a significant contribution. And with the benefit of Alex’s experience in sports-prototypes, we’re in great shape, and I’m genuinely excited about our potential for the forthcoming season.”