Two of the rising stars in the sports car world and the current GP2 Series points leader are the three drivers selected for the upcoming FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1 Rookie Test, to be held on November 20 following the season finale Six Hours of Bahrain.
Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani marked himself as a man to watch with his performances with Tequila Patron ESM this year, closing for that team en route to its wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring aboard the team’s Ligier JS P2 Honda. He’s also starred with Ryan Dalziel and Chris Cumming in his second full FIA WEC season this year in an ESM Ligier JS P2 Nissan, with several podiums albeit no wins in LMP2.
Gustavo Menezes, meanwhile, has been the standout rookie paired with Stephane Richelmi and Nicolas Lapierre at Signatech Alpine. In the team’s Alpine A460 Nissan the trio has four wins from six starts, including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Antonio Giovinazzi, who’s moved into the GP2 Series points lead with a round to play at Abu Dhabi at the end of November, has raced well in the Asian Le Mans Series and makes his FIA WEC debut this weekend in the Extreme Speed-entered, but Jagonya Ayam (Indonesian branch of KFC) Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Sean Gelael and Giedo van der Garde.
Derani will test a Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Giovinazzi an Audi R18 and Menezes a Porsche 919 Hybrid in the one-day test. Derani is a 23-year-old Brazilian while Menezes (U.S.) and Giovinazzi (Italy) are both 22.
“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,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon.
“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.”
Added Gerard Neveu, FIA WEC CEO, “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.”