The three drivers nominated as official ‘Rookies’ for the official FIA World Endurance Championship test session at Bahrain have been announced.
Josh Pierson (Hypercar), Nicolas Varrone (LMP2) and Antoine Doquin (LMGTE Am) will each get a minimum of 30 laps behind the wheel of the championship winning car for their allocated category. The official test will take place one day after the season-closing Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain with a two hour session in the morning followed by three hours in the afternoon.
The three drivers were chosen by the Promoter and Organizer of the FIA WEC and the ACO for their exemplary performance, race skills and commitment throughout the 2023 WEC/ELMS season.
Josh Pierson (17) from Portland, USA, will drive the Toyota Gazoo Racing GR010 Hybrid Hypercar – the same vehicle that has taken five out of six victories so far in this year’s WEC. For the last two seasons, Pierson has driven an LMP2 Oreca 07 Gibson for British squad United Autosports and in 2022 he made history as the youngest driver to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – at just 16-years-old. Pierson won this year’s 6 Hours of Portimão and finished third in last year’s overall LMP2 standings.
Nicolas Varrone (22) from Buenos Aires, Argentina, will drive the winning car in this year’s LMP2 category (WRT, Inter Europol Competition or United Autosports can still mathematically take this year’s title). It’s fair to say that Varrone – alongside his Corvette Racing team-mates Ben Keating and Nicky Catsburg – have been untouchable in this year’s LMGTE Am category, wrapping up the GTE Am title with two rounds to spare. Varrone started his racing career in Formula Renault 2.0 in his native Argentina before venturing into sports cars with a Le Mans Cup campaign with Rinaldi Racing in 2021 followed by ELMS in 2022.
Frenchman Antoine Doquin (19) has been chosen to drive the LMGTE Am championship-winning Chevrolet Corvette C8.R in Bahrain. Having raced in karts for five years, Doquin took the plunge into endurance racing in 2020 competing in ELMS with Cool Racing before winning the LMP3 category of Asian Le Mans Series in 2022 with CD Sport. This year, Doquin has been competing in LMP3 with Racing Spirit of LeMans, winning the 4 Hours of Castellet and is currently second in the standings.
The full entry list for the official Rookie Test on Sunday 5 November will be released in due course.
Josh Pierson: “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. I’m extremely honored 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!”
Nicolas Varrone: “I’m very honored 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.”
Antoine Doquin: “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. 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.”
Frédéric Lequien, FIA WEC CEO: “The FIA WEC has no shortage of talented drivers and the fact that Josh, Nicolas and Antoine have been picked is testament to the high level of drivers we have in both WEC and the ELMS. We are always looking to nurture young talent in endurance racing and we have seen in the past how beneficial our rookie tests can be for drivers’ future careers. We look forward to seeing how all three of these individuals perform behind the wheel in Bahrain.”