Italian football legend Alessandro Del Piero is joining forces with US actor Patrick Dempsey for an assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours as a team owner.
Former Juventus star Del Piero, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, has become a partner in the team run by the star of US hit drama series Grey's Anatomy. It will be known as Dempsey/Del Piero Racing.
The team, which is based near the Road Atlanta circuit in Georgia, has filed one entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours and will also field two cars in the full American Le Mans Series.
The link-up between Del Piero, who is now playing for Sydney FC in Australia, and Dempsey comes courtesy of Los Angeles lawyer and ALMS racer Michael Avenatti, who will race for the new team in 2013.
Del Piero, 38, said: "I have had a passion for motorsport since I as a young boy growing up in Italy. I am thrilled with the opportunity to work with Patrick. We expect to compete at a very high level and our central focus will be on winning championships."
Dempsey/Del Piero Racing has revealed that its Le Mans entry will be driven by Dempsey, Avenatti and sometime British Formula 3 racer Joe Foster, who is also a partner in the team. It has yet to announce the car they will drive.
Plans had been announced for Dempsey to run the LMP2 Lola B12/60 it fielded in five ALMS races last season fitted with Mazda's Skyactive-D diesel engine. Dempsey's long-standing relationship with the Japanese manufacturer's US arm subsequently came to an end over the winter.
Dempsey previously raced at Le Mans in 2009 in a GTE class Ferrari run by AF Corse.
Its ALMS assault could come in a different category. Last year, Avenatti raced in a GTC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup run by Competition Motorsports, while Dempsey Racing fielded a one-make ORECA-Chevrolet in the LMPC division.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Former France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez could get his chance at Le Mans next year to extract revenge over Del Piero, who scored one of the penalties as Italy took the 2006 World Cup.
French GT regular Barthez has aspirations to race in the 24 Hours and tried a Formula Le Mans car during last year's test day to that effect.