Valentino Rossi will take part in the FIA WEC ‘Rookie Test’ in Bahrain in the LMP2 class, joining Team WRT to drive the Oreca 07 – Gibson.
A total of 18 cars (nine Hypercars, five LMP2s and four LMGTE Ams) will take part in the official rookie test on Sunday 5 November, one day after the season-closing Bapco Energies 8 Hours of Bahrain. Previously revealed WEC-nominated rookie Josh Pierson will drive the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar alongside British drivers Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat. Both Hawksworth and Barnicoat – who are team-mates in IMSA – have had a stellar season in USA claiming the GTD Pro class championship title with VSR Lexus. All three drivers will be joined at the test by Toyota’s seasoned professional, Jose Maria Lopez.
Meanwhile, Lilou Wadoux – the first female driver to take an outright WEC class victory with her win in LMGTE Am at Spa this year – will pilot the No. 51 Le Mans winning Ferrari 499P Hypercar. The 22-year-old tested Toyota’s Hypercar last year but Ferrari’s first-ever female works driver will take to the wheel of the Prancing Horse this time round. Wadoux will be joined by Israel’s Robert Shwartzman, a former Formula 2 driver and Formula 1 test driver for Ferrari. He made his sportscar debut earlier this year competing in GT World Challenge.
Cadillac Racing sees WEC-nominated driver Nicolas Varrone in the cockpit of the Cadillac V-Series R following his superb performance in LMGTE Am this season. Varrone will be joined by Kyffin Simpson, fresh from his ELMS championship title with Algarve Pro. The No. 5 Porsche Penske 963 has enlisted factory Porsche driver Thomas Preining, the Austrian driver having just sealed the 2023 DTM title.
Peugeot TotalEnergies will use both of its Peugeot 9X8 cars for the rookie test, with Stoffel Vandoorne – who will compete with the team in 2024 – set to drive alongside Mikkel Jensen and Denmark’s Malthe Jakobsen, the squad’s official junior driver. Elsewhere, the No. 4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team has listed Job van Uitert, former WEC Racing Team Nederland driver, alongside Esteban Guerrieri.
Hertz Team JOTA has elected Pietro Fittipaldi – who normally drives JOTA’s LMP2 car – to test its Porsche 963 Hypercar, while Proton Competition will use experienced drivers Rene Binder (Austria) and Julien Andlauer (France).
In LMP2, the No. 9 Prema Racing entry has three drivers listed to drive the Oreca 07 Gibson including USA’s PJ Hyett, double ELMS champion Paul-Loup Chatin plus two-time Le Mans class winner and current Proton Competition driver, Harry Tincknell. Driving the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition entry will be French Formula 2 driver, Clement Novolak. In the No. 23 United Autosports car will be Brazil’s Daniel Schneider who has driven with the team in Michelin Le Mans Cup and ELMS since 2020.
JOTA and Team WRT will each run one car, with its drivers to be confirmed. Moving away from prototypes, four cars in the LMGTE Am field are set to take part including WEC nominee Antoine Doquin who will drive the category winning Corvette C8.R run by Corvette Racing. He will join team’s regular driver Nicky Catsburg in the car.
AF Corse have invited Switzerland’s Christoph Ulrich to test the No. 21 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo while driving the sister No. 54 entry will be Italy’s Nicola Marinangeli. Finally, Richard Mille AF Corse has named Lorenzo Patrese to turn the wheel in the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo. The Bahrain rookie test will feature a two-hour morning session followed by three hours of running in the afternoon.
UPDATE: Team WRT’s Road to Le Mans and Fanatec GT race-winner Valentino Rossi and multiple Fanatec GT Champion Charles Weerts, will test the Belgian squad’s LMP2 at the official FIA WEC ‘Rookie Test’ on Sunday 5th November around the Bahrain International Circuit.
Here’s the list: https://press.fiawec.com/assets/fileuploads/65/37/6537806963bee.pdf
[Note: The story is as per press release]