With the 90th running of the most famous endurance race right around the corner, 62 team entries will battle for top honours in France. Of the 186 drivers competing at the Circuit de la Sarthe, seven competed in the F1 and IndyCar feeder ladders in 2021, all of whom are making their débuts at Le Mans in the LMP2 category.
By Alexander Studenkov
Jack Aitken (F2): #47 Algarve Pro Racing (LMP2 Pro-Am)
A familiar face to the European single-seater scene, Aitken is best known for making a substitute Formula 1 appearance at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix for Williams. The former Renault and Williams junior has been acting as the Grove team’s reserve driver for the past three years.
Last season, Aitken raced in the GT World Challenge Europe for Emil Frey Racing and even replaced Matteo Nannini at HWA Racelab after the first round of Formula 2. However, Aitken was forced to miss the second half of the racing season owing to injuries sustained in a crash at the 24 Hours of Spa in July.
This year he has embarked on a double campaign in the GT World Challenge and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the latter of which he is currently leading in the Pro-Am division with Racing Team Turkey.
Bent Viscaal (F2): #44 ARC Bratislava (LMP2 Pro-Am)
Having competed in two seasons of FIA Formula 3 and one year of Formula 2, in which he was able to score two podiums with Trident, Viscaal has found a new home in the LMP2 category in 2022.
Viscaal partners former F3 rival Sophia Flörsch at Algarve Pro Racing for his main campaign in the ELMS. The pair has already scored a podium at the season opener in Le Castellet even though both drivers were classed as Silver in the FIA’s driver categorisation.
The Dutchman was supposed to race with his Le Mans team, ARC Bratislava, at the previous round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Spa, but an early crash from teammate Miroslav Konôpka prevented Viscaal from taking part in the race.
Lorenzo Colombo (F3): #9 Prema Orlen Team (LMP2)
After three seasons in the Formula Renault Eurocup, Colombo competed in a full season of Formula 3 with Campos last year, taking a dominant win at a rainy Spa-Francorchamps.
This year he has joined Prema for their first step into endurance racing. Originally only signed for the WEC side of the operation, the Italian substituted for an injured Juan Manuel Correa for the first two ELMS rounds at Paul Ricard and Imola, taking victory on both occasions.
He will be paired up alongside Formula 2 veteran Louis Delétraz and F1 race winner Robert Kubica, with the pair having become ELMS champions last season.
Oliver Rasmussen (F3): #28 Jota Sport (LMP2)
Having narrowly missed out on the Formula Regional European Championship title to Gianluca Petecof in 2020, Rasmussen experienced a challenging rookie F3 season with HWA Racelab, scoring no points across the year.
Rasmussen subsequently took the decision to move to prototype racing, finishing fifth in the 24 Hours of Daytona at the start of the year. The Danish driver is now racing for Jota in the WEC alongside Jonathan Aberdein and Ed Jones, both graduates of the former FIA F3 European Championship.
Following Jonny Edgar’s decision to pull out of Formula 3 because of Crohn’s disease, Rasmussen returned to F3 to replace the Red Bull junior at Trident and scored his first points at Imola.
Tijmen van der Helm (F3): #13 TDS Racing x Vaillante (LMP2 Pro-Am)
Another graduate of Formula 3, Van der Helm dabbled in prototype racing last year with a one-off appearance in the LMP3 category of the Michelin Le Mans Cup after an unsuccessful F3 campaign with MP Motorsport.
Having decided to compete in both the WEC and the ELMS with ARC Bratislava and TDS Racing respectively, the 18-year-old Dutchman will drive for the latter outfit at Le Mans in the Pro-Am division.
Reshad de Gerus (F3 & Euroformula Open): #30 Duqueine Team (LMP2)
Hailing from the French overseas department of Réunion, de Gerus, the 2019 French F4 runner-up, competed for Charouz Racing System in the first four rounds of Formula 3. He then moved down the ladder to race in two events of Euroformula Open, taking two top-five finishes.
De Gerus is currently driving for Duqueine in the ELMS, this being his first car racing experience outside of single-seaters.
Josh Pierson (USF2000): #23 United Autosports USA (LMP2)
Last but not least there is Pierson, who at the tender age of 16 is set to break the record for the youngest starter at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The driver from Portland, Oregon, competed in the USF2000 Championship, the tertiary feeder series on the Road to Indy, for the past two seasons, getting five podiums in 2021 along with fourth place in the standings.
Pierson has already experienced huge success in his limited time in sports cars. Driving for United Autosports, he took victories in the Asian Le Mans Series and in the first race of the WEC, making him the latter series’ youngest ever class winner.
Parallel to his WEC commitments, Pierson is also competing in the IMSA SportsCar Championship in his homeland, driving for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports.
Header photo credit: Williams Racing
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