NEW sportscar team Spirit Racing heads to the Spanish circuit of Jarama next weekend for the opening round of the French-run V de V championship.

The team was formed early in the new year and is jointly owned by Banbury-based Philip, Adam and Jamie Derbyshire, under the Spirit Motor Group banner and London banker and sportscar racer, Simon Phillips.

The squad will initially run two cars, both 2006 Norma chassis with two-litre Honda engines, for the Derbyshire brothers and Phillips and his driving partner Rob Garofall. However, the plan for the team is to run more cars as the season progresses for customers who wish to race competitively in the endurance series.

Respected Le Mans-winning engineer, Alan Mugglestone, will be a consultant to the team, overseeing the early season development and setting up of the team's cars, outside of his schedule at Team LNT with the development of the Panoz Le Mans car.

Team co-owner Philip Derbyshire said: "After talking to Simon and Rob last year, who entered the V de V series for the full season and then trying a couple of races, we were keen to have a proper attack on the championship.

"It's an incredibly well run series, with a huge amount of track time for the drivers. We saw a gap in the market for drivers who want to race all over Europe at this level, either with their own cars or on an 'arrive and drive' basis.

"We will be aiming to give potential customers this option once the team is settled in and running, which we hope will be by about mid-season."

The team had originally bought two brand new 2007 Norma chassis to use for this season. However, complications with the organizers and the regulations have stopped the new French car being eligible to score points. The Norma factory immediately came to the aid of the new outfit, supplying them with a 2006 car for Jamie and Adam Derbyshire to begin the season.

"The 2007 car is able to race, but it won't score points," explained Rob Garofall. "Simon and I still had the car from last year and the Norbert Santos from Norma has been tremendously helpful to us to get the second chassis here, allowing Jamie and Adam to start testing," he added.

As well as aiming for the European V de V title, Spirit Racing will also be taking part in two UK events.

The normal race length in the V de V series is three hours. However, two six hour races, one at Spa-Francorchamp in Belgium and one at Estoril in Portugal, as well as the crown jewel of the championship - the 12-hour race at Magny-Cours in France - will keep the teams and drivers busy over the course of the season.