2022 WEC Newbies Go for It!
We take a look at the WEC rookies in 2022 and focus on the young guns as they eye a future in endurance....
17 new racers made their WEC debuts at Sebring, but who were they?
Soon, the names will become more and more familiar. But for now, by way of introduction, here are the 16 men and one woman who added their names to the drivers’ roster and joined racing’s global endurance club in the world’s biggest and best sportscar championship – the WEC!
Our initial focus here is on the young up and coming drivers in LMP2 aiming to make a career in global endurance racing for the future. But each of the 17 drivers making their debut is featured here after their first WEC race.
Lilou Wadoux - No.1 Richard Mille – LMP2
22 year-old Wadoux began circuit racing in 2017, finishing second in the Peugeot Sport junor class championship, and second in the junior standings.
By 2018, she was one of 15 female drivers assessed by the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission with who she still works with closely today.
Racing in the European TCR series in 2019, she drove a Peugeot 308 but her season was curtailed after a large accident at Spa.
For 2020 Wadoux was racing in the Alpine Elf Europa Cup, racing with an Alpine A110. She finished seventh in the championship with three fourth place finishes.
Continuing in the Alpine Cup for 2021 she posted multiple podium finishes to take a highly merited third position in the standings.
Her first win came at Estoril and she also claimed a win at the Porsche Sprint Challenge race that supported the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Her preparation for a first WEC campaign started last November when she tested the Richard Mille Oreca-Gibson LMP2 car at the official rookie test session.
At Sebring Lilou gained valuable experience with her teammates Charles Milesi and fellow WEC rookie Sebastien Ogier to finish 12th in the LMP2 class.
Lorenzo Colombo - No.9 Prema Orlen Team – LMP2
From Legnano in Italy, close to the Swiss border, Colombo has made a name for himself in junior single seaters in recent seasons.
He finished third in the 2017 Italian F4 championship and then took race wins in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2019 and 2020 before graduating to F3 for 2021.
Racing for the Campos team he claimed a maiden win at Spa but then turned his attentions to endurance racing by joining the Prema Orlen Team for 2022 to partner Robert Kubica and Louis Deletraz.
Lorenzo showed some excellent pace at Sebring and was rewarded with a fine fourth place in LMP2.
Joshua Pierson - No.23 United Autosports USA – LMP2
From Wilsonville in Oregon, 16 year-old Pierson was a multiple karting champion. Remarkably, he first sat in a kart at just two years old, racing locally at age four, nationally at seven and internationally at 11!
After karting, Pierson moved into single seaters, racing F1600 and the USF2000’s, entering the Road to Indy series.
His attentions turned to the WEC as long ago as last August when he was announced as having signed a long-term deal with the United Autosports to nurture his talent for the future.
He joined the experienced duo of Paul di Resta and Oliver Jarvis at Sebring but will be joined in the cockpit by Alex Lynn for the rest of the WEC season.
Pierson was the sensation of Sebring by driving vital stints on worn tyres to take a memorable LMP2 victory on his WEC debut.
Oliver Rasmussen - No.28 JOTA – LMP2
Following in a long and glittering line of Danish endurance racing talent, 21 year-old French born, Danish national Rasmussen has been a familiar face on the junior single-seater scene for several years.
His best season was in 2020 when he took six wins in the Formula Regional European Championship.
Last year was spent with HWA Racelab in the FIA F3 championship before he elected to go sportscar racing with the highly decorated JOTA squad where he shares a Oreca-Gibson with Ed Jones and Jonathan Aberdein.
A strong run to fifth place in LMP2 at Sebring was a sound start for the Dane.
Tijmen van der Helm - No.44 ARC Bratislava – LMP2
From Delft, close to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Van Der Helm will race for the ARC Bratislava squad in 2022 sharing the cockpit with regular Miro Konopka and former Rebellion driver Mathias Beche.
The 18 year-old has racing in his genes as father Gerald was a well-known national racer over the last 20 years.
Last season he raced in F3 with MP Motorsport but also sampled LMP3 power by entering the two Michelin Le Mans Cup rounds at Le Mans.
This whetted his appetite and he signed with Bratislava after gaining experienced with LMP2 power at Daytona in January finishing in eighth place.
He will also compete in the LMP2 class of the 2022 ELMS with TDS Racing x Vaillante this year.
The Dutch driver enjoyed several impressive stints at Sebring to come in fourth position in the LMP2 Pro/Am division.
Mikkel Pedersen - No.46 Team Project 1 – LMGTE Am
Another young Dane looking to follow in the wheel tracks of Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Nicklas Nielsen in recent years, Pedersen has extensive experience in racing but is still just 25 years of age.
Best known for being a front runner in the highly competitive Porsche Supercup, Pedersen has in recent seasons raced in GT World Challenge.
For 2022 he partners Matteo Cairoli and reigning Michelin Le Mans Cup champion Niki Leutwiler.
Sebring was a tough start for Mikkel as the No.46 Team Project 1 Porsche was an early retirement from the race.
Sebastian Priaulx - No.77 Dempsey Proton
The son of three-time FIA World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, and grandson of single-seater racer Graham, this third-generation racer will join the WEC with Harry Tincknell and Christian Ried in 2022.
Priaulx won the Guernsey Kart Club title aged fourteen before moving into Ginetta Juniors and then British F4.
He showed pace and skill in each of these categories, as well as wins in the GT4 category of the British GT championship, before making his US racing debut in Michelin Pilot Challenge at Road Atlanta in 2019.
A Multimatic contracted driver, Priaulx undoubtably has a big future in global sportscar racing over the next decade and more. This he proved at Sebring was an impressive display which netted he and his teammates fourth position in LMGTE Am.
While some of the 2022 rookies are little known, several have established careers in other disciplines behind them or ongoing as they race in WEC this season.
Among them is former Sauber and Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez, current Formula E racer and ex Super GT and Super Formula champion Nick Cassidy, and Dubai born 2016 Indy Lights champion and ex Indycar driver Ed Jones.
Additionally, Team Penske driver Dane Cameron needs little introduction after taking three IMSA titles in 2014, 2016 and 2019.
Jean-Baptiste Lahaye is the brother of fellow racer Matthieu, with whom he will racer for the Ultimate LMP2 team in 2022. Also in that squad is François Heriau, who should have made his WEC debut last year at Le Mans but unfortunately broke his collar bone just before the event.
Steven Thomas undertook his first WEC start at Sebring with the Algarve Pro Racing team in LMP2.
The Texan raced twice at Le Mans last August and capped off a successful 2021 season by taking the runners-up position in the LMP2 class of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship.
A late starter to racing, Franck Dezoteux has gained some experience in recent seasons racing with AF Corse in the ELMS and the Michelin Le Mans Cup with a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
From San Antonio in Texas, Fred Poordad will realise a dream in 2022 by racing on the international stage with 2019-19 LMGTE Am champion Patrick Lindsay and Julien Andlauer teaming up with the 57 year-old who was the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America Pro-Am Cup champion.
David Pittard, a regular in the VLN and the Nürburgring 24hrs race, gets his big international break in 2022 as partner to WEC regular and LMGTE and Pro champions Paul Dalla Lana and Nick Thiim.
He tested with the team last November at Bahrain and impressed sufficiently to get a call-up for Northwest AMR squad.
The British ace started in scintillating style after completing a flawless race in the No.98 Aston Martin Vantage to seal a memorable win in LMGTE Am along with Dalla Lana and Thiim.