Robert Kubica lands full-time race return in WEC

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Ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut and compete in the World Endurance Championship with the ByKolles privateer LMP1 team in 2017.

The former BMW and Renault F1 driver will make his full-time return to circuit racing following a series of one-off sportscar endurance outings in GT machinery, including the Dubai 24 Hour in January, the 12 Hours of Mugello, a Renault Sport Trophy round at Spa and the 6 Hours of Rome at Vallelunga.

Kubica tested ByKolles' CLM P1/01 car last November during the WEC rookie test at Bahrain, setting quicker lap times than the Austrian outfit's regular drivers achieved throughout the race weekend.

"After my time in rally I've been looking for something as close to Formula One as possible," the 32-year-old Pole said. "This is exactly what I've found in LMP1. At the end of last year's WEC season, I was able to do my first laps behind the wheel of the CLM P1/01.

"I felt comfortable in the car very quickly and was able to increase my pace accordingly. With even more experience I'm sure I will be able to extract more performance. I'm already very much looking forward to the Prologue in Monza and the season start in Silverstone."

The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner's promising F1 career was brought to a sudden halt ahead of the 2011 season when he suffered severe injuries to his arm, leg and hand in a near-fatal crash during an off-season rally event in Italy.

Kubica made a remarkable recovery from his injuries and contested in the World Rally Championship between 2013 and 2016, before switching his attentions to a return to circuit racing.

Eleven-time F1 grand prix winner Rubens Barrichello will also make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this year, partnering 1988 race winner Jan Lammers at the Racing Team Netherlands LMP2 squad.

2014 WEC champion and former Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber has been appointed Grand Marshal for the 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Australian finished second at the event in 2015 during his title-winning LMP1 campaign with Porsche and will be responsible for launching this year's race on June 17.