Pierson set to become youngest Le Mans driver at 16 next year

American Josh Pierson is set to become the youngest driver to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours when he contests the FIA World Endurance Championship with United Autosports next year.

Pierson, who lies fourth in the 2021 USF2000 Championship on the Road to Indy ladder, is on course to beat the record set by fellow American Matt McMurry in 2014 should he make the grid in one of United's LMP2 Oreca 07-Gibsons at Le Mans on June 11-12 2022.

He will be 16 and 117 days, which compares with McMurry's 16 and 202 days when he raced a Zytek Z11SN LMP2 run under the Caterham Racing banner by Greaves Motorsport.

Pierson, who is at Le Mans as a guest of United this week, explained that there were multiple reasons for his decision to move in sportscars for what will be only his third season of car racing.

"I think this is one of the best series in the world," he told Motorsport.com. "I have grown up watching it and it's something I wanted to do.

"But this is also a great way to get my name out there."

Read Also:

Pierson explained that he is expecting to make selected appearances in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to prepare for the WEC programme.

"I will be doing a little bit of IMSA from what I know now as training for this," he said. "I wanted to do WEC because it's on a bigger scale and it's what United had on the docket for me."

Pierson got his first taste of an LMP2 car with the PR1/Mathiasen IMSA squad at the Button Willow in California circuit earlier this year, prior to a try-out with United at the Red Bull Ring in May.

United team boss Richard Dean explained that the connection with Pierson came via sportscar racer Stephen Simpson, who drove for his JLR team in Formula Renault in the mid-2000s.

"Stephen contacted me over the winter telling me that he was coaching this kid who was really good and that I ought to meet him," said Dean. "I met Josh before the Sebring 12 Hours and he told me he'd always been interested in sportscars and Le Mans."

#22 United Autosports Usa Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Fabio Scherer, Filipe Albuquerque

#22 United Autosports Usa Oreca 07 - Gibson: Philip Hanson, Fabio Scherer, Filipe Albuquerque

Photo by: Paolo Belletti

Dean revealed that Pierson immediately impressed during a day of testing at the Red Bull Ring.

"We set out a proper programme, long runs, double stints, pit-ins and pit-outs, and there wasn't a single thing that he didn't pick up instantly," Dean explained.

Teammates for Pierson, who will be graded as a silver driver, in what looks set to be an expanded two-car WEC assault from United in 2022 have yet to be announced.

Pierson explained that he is expecting to continue racing single-seaters next year, although the WEC programme will be his priority.

"I don't think I will abandon single-seaters, but we will have to see what the options are," he said.

Pierson revealed that he still has aspirations to reach the pinnacle of single-seater racing in either Formula 1 or IndyCar. He began driving karts at the age of two and racing them at four.

Pierson graduated to cars when he turned 14 in February 2020: he started out racing F1600 single-seaters but switched to USF2000 when the series he was contesting was cancelled as a result of COVID.

He also raced an Indy Pro 2000 car, which is the next step on the Road to Indy ladder, in the SCCA's Atlantic Championship Series.

shares
comments

Related video

Glickenhaus: Le Mans test day shows we can challenge for win
Previous article

Glickenhaus: Le Mans test day shows we can challenge for win

Next article

Kubica hopes Le Mans debut will be "different" to previous 24h races

Kubica hopes Le Mans debut will be "different" to previous 24h races
Load comments
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Prime

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Prime

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out.

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021