While the headlines may have been grabbed by Fernando Alonso in joining the WEC with Toyota Gazoo Racing, there are additional big names and many promising youngsters who will compete in LMP1 during the Super Season.
By Sam Smith | WEC
Photos by Adrenal Media
Among these is highly regarded GP2 race winner Oliver Rowland who will make his endurance racing debut for the CEFC TRSM Racing team at Spa next month.
Rowland has had a stellar single-seater career which has brought significant success with titles gained in the Formula Renault UK Series in 2011 and the Formula Renault 3.5 championship in 2014. The 25-year-old will dovetail his WEC commitments with a role as a test driver for the Martini Williams F1 Team in 2018.
Charlie Robertson will compete in the No.5 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta Mechachrome and comes to the WEC after a meteoric career which has seen him take the 2015 ELMS LMP3 title and finish runner-up in the 2016 Asian Le Mans LMP3 Cup. Still only 21 years of age Robertson has had close ties with Ginetta since he was 14. He will make his WEC debut at Spa next month in the all-new Ginetta LMP1 car.
Like Rowland, another of the UK’s most promising young drivers will also get his chance to carve out a sportscar career, as Dean Stoneman joins an all-British line-up in the No.5 CEFC TRSM car. Stoneman won the 2010 FIA Formula Two title before going on to compete in GP2, Indy Lights and GT3 racing. His career was interrupted in 2012 after he was diagnosed with cancer but he has bounced back better than ever.
Leo Roussel will also race with CEFC TRSM team as he graduates from LMP2 where he was crowned 2017 ELMS champion when racing for G-Drive Racing.
The US-entered DragonSpeed squad makes the transition from the ELMS to the WEC this season with the team entering one car in LMP1 and another in LMP2. Henrik Hedman has been a familiar presence in the ELMS over the years, having raced for DragonSpeed in 2016 and 2017 where he achieved five podium positions and one victory. The Swede now makes the move up to LMP1 with the all-new BR Engineering BR1-AER challenger alongside teammates Ben Hanley and Renger Van der Zande.
Hanley makes his LMP1 debut after several impressive performances in LMP2 with various teams in 2016 and 2017, while Van der Zande comes back to WEC for the first time since 2012 when he made sporadic appearances for the Lotus LMP2 team. However, the Dutchman will not race at Spa next month and will vacate the seat for reigning World Series Formula V8 3.5 champion Pietro Fittipaldi who tested the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 in Bahrain last November.
Egor Orudzhev and Matevos Isaakyan will both race for the SMP Racing squad in the Super Season. The Russian pair boast impressive pedigrees and have come up through the SMP ladder of talent in single-seaters. Orudzhev comes to WEC having won an ELMS race last season, a year in which he ran a dual programme in the Formula V8 3.5 Series. His team mate from the single-seater championship, Isaakyan, finished as runner-up in the standings in Bahrain after registering two race wins.
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