Following the close of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season in Bahrain, the WEC and its LMP1 manufacturer partners Audi, Porsche and Toyota will hold the second, official ‘Rookie Test’ to offer up-and-coming drivers the opportunity to show their talents behind the wheel of an LMP1 hybrid car.
The test will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday 20 November, the day after the 6 hours of Bahrain.
Three drivers have been chosen by the Promoter from championships within the ACO’s aegis including the WEC, European Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series. They have been selected as having shown the best performance, determination and race skills during 2016.
Each of the prototype manufacturers will test with at least one LMP1 car, and each of the drivers chosen will be given the opportunity to complete at least 30 laps with one manufacturer. The LMP1 manufacturers may also use the time on track to test additional drivers if they wish.
The drivers selected by the promoter are Pipo Derani (23, BRA), Antonio Giovinazzi (22, ITA) and Gustavo Menezes (22, USA).
Derani has been competing in 2016 with Tequila Patrón ESM in the WEC, having started his year with victories in the team’s Ligier JS P2 LMP2 at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, and will test the Toyota TS050 HYBRID; Giovinazzi, who is poised to win the 2016 GP2 single seater series with one race weekend to go, is a newcomer to the WEC but is a two-time race winner in the Asian Le Mans Series and he will test the Audi R18; Menezes has been a standout performer in this season’s LMP2 category, winning four of the six rounds so far including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he will test the Porsche 919 Hybrid.
President of the ACO, Pierre Fillon, commented: “Of the many candidates we considered for selection, these three have shown both outstanding performances and great potential which we considered merited the test drives in Bahrain. Pipo’s excellent performances for ESM in the USA at the start of the year backed up an impressive 2015 WEC season and some extraordinary podium-gaining feats in 2016. Antonio is relatively new to endurance racing, compared to the other two, but he has shown a talent for it which cannot be ignored and has the potential for a long future with us should he choose it, while Gustavo has been consistently impressive in the Signatech Alpine this season alongside more experienced team mates. We congratulate them on their selection and we wish them every success at the test.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the World Endurance Championship, said: “The Rookie Test is a fantastic opportunity for these three up-and-coming endurance drivers to test an LMP1 prototype, the most technologically advanced race cars in the world. We looked in depth at drivers from within the world of endurance racing before making the selection, and believe that Pipo Derani, Antonio Giovinazzi and Gustavo Menezes fully deserved the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and potential. This Rookie Test will give drivers an added bonus to their season, and forms an important element in the progressive career path available within the endurance family.”
All of the other WEC competitors who raced at the 6 Hours of Bahrain on the previous day are also able to run their cars in the test, providing a unique opportunity for them to evaluate potential drivers for the 2017 season in ideal conditions.
An initial list of those due to attend the test will be released next week, with the final entry list being available prior to the 6 Hours of Bahrain. Running times on the circuit on Sunday 20 November will be from 10am to Midday and 1pm to 4pm.