Teenager Pierson gets Toyota Hypercar chance in Bahrain WEC test

Pierson, who became the youngest driver to compete at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2022 at the age of just 16, has been selected as one of the three drivers by the WEC promoter to take part in the official post-season rookie test at the Bahrain International Circuit on November 5.

The other two names nominated by Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA are Corvette ace Nicolas Varrone and Antoine Doquin, who will sample LMP2 and GT3 machinery respectively in the five-hour test session.

In a statement issued by WEC, it said that the trio were selected based on their “exemplary performance, race skills and commitment throughout the 2023 WEC/ELMS season.”

Pierson was chosen for the coveted Hypercar test chance after a strong second season with United Autosports in the LMP2 class, scoring his second career victory at Portimao together with Oliver Jarvis and Giedo van der Garde and bagging another podium finish at Spa.

With just the bonus-points finale in Bahrain to run, he and Jarvis sit fourth in the championship on 85 points, 16 points behind Philip Hanson and Frederic Lubin in United’s sister #22 ORECA.

“I’m really excited to get my first experience in a Hypercar, especially with a team like Toyota that is experienced and passionate about the sport,” said the now-17-year-old.

“I’m extremely honoured and grateful to have been selected for this and I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel. 

“I’d also like to thank United Autosports, my co-drivers, and my driver coach, Stephen Simpson, as I owe a lot of my progression as a driver to them. I can’t wait to get started!”

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 — Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Varrone, meanwhile, has received the Bahrain test-call up after helping Corvette clinch the GTE Am champions with two rounds to go at Monza.

Together with team-mates Ben Keating and Nicky Catsburg, the Corvette crew have won three of the six races so far, including the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Varrone will drive for whichever team ends up winning the LMP2 title, with WRT most likely to give the Argentine a chance in its #41 ORECA after extending its championship lead to 33 points with victory in Fuji earlier this month.

Varrone said: “I’m very honoured to be selected by the WEC to participate in the Rookie Test at Bahrain. This has been a great year with Corvette Racing. I couldn’t imagine a better year in this championship. 

«We managed to clinch the title early and win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was our biggest goal going into this season. So, it is fantastic to have the chance to drive the WEC championship-winning car in LMP2. This is something that is very great for me. 

«Obviously I am driving GTs but my goal is Hypercar, so this is another step forward toward that for my career. It will be cool to drive the LMP2, and I’m sure I will enjoy it. Thank you to the WEC and everyone for this opportunity.”

The final WEC-nominated slot will go to Doquin, who will sample the Corvette C8.R GTE car on the back of his strong results in the European Le Mans Series this year with the Racing Spirit of Leman team, which has seen him occupy second place in the standings with three races to go.

“I am eager to get my first laps behind the wheel of a car from the FIA WEC. I would like to express my gratitude to WEC and Corvette Racing for giving me this opportunity,» he said.

“It’s a source of pride for me to know that I will be driving a car that has won the championship in its category. After competing and winning in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and then in the European Le Mans Series championships, this is the logical next step in my endurance journey. 

“I can’t wait to get there, to discover the car, the team, the track, and this unique environment.”

The full driver line-up for the WEC rookie test will be revealed in due course.

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