British racing driver Charlie Martin on Thursday announced that she will compete in the Michelin Le Mans Cup in 2019, making her prototype racing debut with the Racing Experience team – an important step on her mission to become the first transgender competitor in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Martin will compete in a 5 litre 420 bhp Norma M30 LMP3 car, partnering Luxembourgian brothers Gary and David Hauser in the six-round championship.
Five rounds of the series take place on the same weekend as European Le Mans Series events, at such iconic circuits as Monza, Paul Ricard, Spa and Barcelona. The flagship “Road to Le Mans” round of the championship will also take place ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at La Sarthe – where Martin has already stood on the podium, having achieved third place alongside Nicolas Schatz in the 2017 Trophee Tourisme Endurance on her debut at the world-famous track.
Charlie Martin said: “It feels very special to be announcing this next stage in my racing career. This move into the Le Mans Cup racing brings me one important step closer to my dream of racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, making history as the first transgender competitor to do so.”
“I was lucky to be invited to test the Racing Experience LMP3 car in France last year and from my first taste of the car, I was hooked. I have great partners in Gary and David Hauser, who are very experienced in this sort of machinery. I can’t wait to get testing miles under my belt and show what I can do in the season ahead.”
Christian Hauser said: “We are pleased to welcome Charlie into our team and are looking forward to racing alongside her in 2019. Her skill and aptitude for endurance racing was immediately clear when she took part in a private test for us, and this will be a big year for us as we collectively make our Le Mans Cup debut.”
Charlie will get her first taste of the Racing Experience Norma M30 LMP3 car during a team test at Paul Ricard on March 17 before making her endurance race debut at the circuit one month later.
Leicestershire racing driver Charlie began her career in 2006 in the Hillclimb Leaders Championship, racing a Peugeot 205 before moving on to race in the French Hill Climb Championship and European Hill Climb Championship in 2014, in a Westfield. She switched to a Formula Renault in 2015/16 and to a Norma Auto Concept M20FC in 2017. Martin also competed in the Trophee Tourisme Endurance in November 2017 alongside French racer Nicolas Schatz, claiming third place on her debut outing at Bugatti Circuit.
In 2018, Martin made her return to British circuit racing, competing in the Ginetta GT5 Championship and recorded three podium finishes in class during the season. In 2018, she also completed her first test of LMP3 endurance racing machinery at Circuit de Chambley with the Racing Experience in a Ligier JSP3 car.
Martin is a prominent ambassador for equality in sport and is aiming to be the first transgender racing driver to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In January, she was announced as a Stonewall Sports Ambassador as part of a campaign to encourage acceptance for all without exception.