WEC Stars of the Future Shine in Rookie Test
The fifth ever FIA WEC rookie test concluded on Sunday afternoon with several new faces and potential stars of the future familiarising themselves with the WEC paddock and new machinery.
The WEC has run the chance for new talent to race in the future since 2015, and several new helmets were seen in the 18-car entry list today over five hours of testing.
Among them was seven-time WRC World Champion Sebastien Ogier, who tested the No.8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The rallying legend set a best time of 1m50.647s during the morning session in the car he shared with yesterday’s Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain winner Sebastien Buemi.
Learning the intricacies of the first ever Hypercar title winning Toyota Gazoo Racing entered car, Ogier impressed the team with his application throughout the test.
Running alongside Ogier was recently crowned LMP2 champion, Charles Milesi, who has been one of the most successful rookie drivers in WEC’s nine season history.
Milesi completed several stints at the wheel of the No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar, which he shared with double WEC champion Mike Conway during the morning.
A 1m49.636s lap in the morning was highly impressive from the French driver who wrapped up a rookie title success just 24 hours previously with Team WRT teammates Ferdinand Habsburg and Robin Frijns.
Overall, Nicolas Lapierre ran out the quickest of the day with a quickest time of 1m48.697s lap, 0.16s faster than Mike Conway in the No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar.
In the afternoon session Conway ran exclusively in the car and set a lap of 1m50.815s, a time which was 1.7s shy of Sebastien Buemi’s fastest of the day – 1m49.017s.
Richard Mille Racing entered double W-Series champion, Jamie Chadwick, and multiple race winner Alice Powell, as well as French driver Lilou Wadoux.
Powell completed 31 laps and peaked with a 1m53.578s best, describing the experience as “very positive and interesting from a technical perspective.” Chadwick drove in the three-hour afternoon session and set a best time of 1m53.668.
DragonSpeed USA had Sebastien Montoya in its LMP car. The son of its regular driver Juan-Pablo Montoya, he was fresh from racing in the Italian Formula 4.
The 16-year-old acquitted himself well to the Oreca-Gibson and completed several strong stints with his father on hand to offer advice.
New LMP2 champions, Team WRT had Sophia Floersch at the wheel of the No.31 car while JOTA welcomed back its 2018-19 driver Jazeman Jaafar to the cockpit.
Sophia Floersch was highly impressive in the Team WRT LMP2 car, setting a rapid 1m50.870s lap at the very end of the day to emerge as the fastest of the four LMP2 cars running.
LMGTE Pro team AF Corse entered Peter Mann and his son Simon Mann, as well as Christof Ulrich for the rookie test.
Simon Mann, who has raced in the IMSA series and the Italian GT Championship for AF Corse this season had the cockpit to himself in the morning session, while Peter Mann and Ulrich shared stints in the afternoon.
A 1m57.658 time by Alessandro Pier Guidi in the morning remained as the quickest lap of the day in the LMGTE Pro class.
Several fresh faces were seen in the LMGTE Am category with Gregory Huffaker and Florian Latore joining Andrew Watson in the No.33 TF Sport Aston Martin.
The No.60 Iron Lynx Ferrari was the fastest out on track as Robert Kubica swapped LMP2 machinery for a Ferrari 488 GTE Am car, topping the afternoon times with a best of 1m58.632s lap.
There was a strong South American flavour to the pits as Brazil’s Bruno Baptista was joined by Argentinian TCR Europe ace Franco Girolami.
Recently crowned ELMS LMP3 champion Laurents Hörr and another FIA WEC selected rookie got seat time with both the No.54 and No.83 AF Corse Ferraris during the day.
In the No.85 Iron Lynx Ferrari, F3 racer Alexander Peroni joined Benjamin Goethe, the son of former WEC racer Roald Goethe.
The No.83 Aston Martin Racing car, Nicolaj Kjaergaard (Denmark), David Pittard (UK) and Roman De Angelis (Canada) all completed solid stints, with Pittard emerging as the quickest of the three by a slender margin.
D’Station Racing had French driver Valentin Hasse-Clot and Americans - Kenton Koch and Dylan Murray to test the Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
Murray, son of well-known former sportscar racer David Murray, has competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driving for Riley Motorsports in the LMP3 category this season.