Peugeot has signed Firestone Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay as its reserve driver for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The 23-year-old Frenchman had hoped to graduate to IndyCar this year, and tested with the Conquest team during the winter. But having been unable to put together a race deal in America, he will instead become back-up for Peugeot's LMP1 program. Vernay has already taken part in a test with the team at Aragon.
Peugeot Sport boss Olivier Quesnel said: "We looked at a few of the discipline's rising stars with a good track record and decided to offer a test to Jean-Karl Vernay this week. He has raced in a driver development series, in similar fashion to Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, in the United States in Indy Lights. He is young and fits the profile of our drivers. It's also a way of us preparing for the future."
Team manager Pascal Dimitri said Vernay had made a good impression in the Aragon tryout.
"He was reasonable in his approach," said Dimitri. "He made constant progress, carefully followed our instructions and at no stage attempted to overstep the mark. Jean-Karl drove a fine last stint in the early hours, as the sun rose. It convinced us to include him in the team."
Vernay will join the team for Sunday's official Le Mans test day.
"I am very pleased to be given this magnificent opportunity," he said. "This is my first professional racing driver contract. I would like to thank Peugeot Sport for having placed their faith in me like this. It's a great achievement for me. I am proud to be able to help the team and the lead drivers go after the race wins."