Following the close of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season in Bahrain, the WEC and its LMP1 manufacturer partners Audi, Porsche and Toyota will hold an official ‘Rookie Test’ to offer up-and-coming drivers the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an LMP1 hybrid car. The inaugural test will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday 22 November, the day after the 6 hours of Bahrain.
Three drivers have been chosen by the Promoter from within major endurance racing championships, and not just from within the WEC. They have been selected as having shown the best performance, determination and race skills during 2015. Each of the prototype manufacturers will test with at least one LMP1 car, and each of the drivers chosen will be given the opportunity to complete at least 30 laps with one manufacturer. The LMP1 manufacturers may also use the time on track to test additional drivers if they wish.
The drivers selected by the promoter are Sam Bird (GBR), Mitch Evans (NZL) and Richie Stanaway (NZL). Bird has been competing in 2015 with G-Drive Racing in the WEC and will test the Toyota TS040 HYBRID; Evans’ performance with JOTA Sport at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans brought him to the attention of the Promoter, and he will test the Porsche 919 Hybrid; Stanaway, like Evans, has been combining a single-seater career with successful appearances for Aston Martin Racing in the WEC, and he will test the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
President of the ACO, Pierre Fillon, commented: “Of the many potential candidates we considered for selection, these three have shown outstanding performances which we considered merited the test drives in Bahrain. Sam Bird, Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway have all come from GP2, and we respect that Sam has made the full commitment this year to endurance racing. Mitch’s excellent performance at Spa and Le Mans brought him very much to our attention, while Richie has not failed to impress in the Aston Martin. Moving from LMGTE Am to the Pro category, he has demonstrated how it is possible to progress through the categories, just as it is possible for drivers to follow a career path through endurance racing’s different levels. We congratulate them on their selection and we wish them every success at the test.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the World Endurance Championship, said: “This first 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 Sam Bird, Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway 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.”
All of the other WEC competitors who raced at the 6 Hours of Bahrain on the previous day are also able to run their cars in the test, providing a unique opportunity for them to evaluate potential drivers for the 2016 season in ideal conditions. An initial list of those due to attend the test will be released on 15 October, with the final entry list being available from Monday 9 November.
Running times on the circuit on Sunday 22 November will be from 10am to Midday and 1pm to 4pm.