Derani and Menezes look forward to Rookie Test
Together with Paul-Loup Chatin, Gustavo Menezes and Pipo Derani have more reasons than most to look forward to the final round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain after their selection for the LMP1 rookie tests.
Both men were chosen by the series organisers as a reward for their standout campaigns in LMP2. Twenty-two-year-old Menezes sealed the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers in Chinaandwon the Le Mans 24 Hours at the first attempt in June, while 23-year-old Derani currently lies fourth in the standings for Extreme Speed Motorsports with four podiums to his name.
The pair’s stellar performances resulted in them being placed with Porsche and Toyota for the test, where they will be joined by Frenchman Paul-Loup Chatin in the Audi R18. Championship safety advisor Yannick Dalmas will drive all three cars to gain a better understanding of these high-tech prototypes.
Menezes, who will drive the 919 Hybrid which has delivered Porsche consecutive Le Mans victories and WEC Manufacturers’ titles, will become the first American to sample an LMP1 car since 2013.
“I’m beyond words on this one,” he said. “Obviously I knew we were looking at a strong season but to put everything in play and have a year that we’ve had and be blessed with the opportunity the FIA WEC and Porsche has given me… I’m extremely excited.
“The whole thing about LMP1, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Now to get that opportunity and doing it like this is amazing. Now we’re just going to keep our heads down until the end of the season. I’ll be anxiously waiting to get my hands on that car!”
Derani impressed by taking outright wins the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 Hours earlier this year, becoming the first man ever to win both at the first attempt. The Brazilian is hoping to continue his rapid rise by leaving a lasting impression on the watching Toyota bosses in Sakhir
“I had no idea that I was going to be chosen, but of course I was hoping I would be considered,” he said. “It was a massive honor to discover that I was one of the three young drivers selected by the FIA WEC and the ACO.
“I am already pretty excited by it all, and I cannot wait to get behind the wheel of one of the Toyota TS050 Hybrids at the rookie test. My absolute aim is to be an LMP1 driver. Well, this is the first step and I am determined to make the very best of the opportunity to work with the team which won its home race.
“I have to say that I am very grateful to the committee which selected me and recognised the work I am doing over the last couple of seasons. I came into the WEC with just two ELMS races under my belt. The WEC is the strongest championship in the world and I have learned so much from being part of it.”