A lot of change is happening in the World Endurance championship.
LMP2 has exited the stage left from the championship, and GT3 has come in, introducing us to the next generation of GT3 competition, with new cars coming from all angles.
Therefore, this massive shake-up in the field means a massive shake-up in the drivers in the championship.
So let’s take a look at the drivers you should be looking out for in 2024
Although this hasn’t been officially announced, it is heavily expected that Marcellio will be in one of the BMW M Hybrid V8 LMDH drivers next season in the WEC as he swapped Mercedes for BMW.
To say that he is an accomplished GT3 racer is an understatement, as he has won absolutely everything.
Just to list his achievements:
Champion in GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup in 2022 and 2023.
And second in the sprint cup this year and has been in the top three of that championship since 2018, FIA Formula 3 European Champion, a race win in British GT, Second in the Bathurst 12 hours, and the ADAC GT Masters Champion in 2022.
The reasons he’ll be out to impress this season will be the fact he has a new manufacturer to prove himself to, plus this is his opportunity to show he’s not just a quick GT3 driver, but also a quick prototype driver.
His only other race in a prototype car was this year’s Daytona 24 Hours where he finished eighth position in the LMP2 class for High-Class Racing.
So, with a new manufacturer and new racing category, he’ll want to impress to keep his seat.
Furthermore, this year will be his first attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so he’ll want to be running at the sharp end of the field in that.
Plus, he is very committed to his racing as he did a mind-boggling 14-hour stint at the Spa 24 hours in 2017, where he finished third in his first attempt at the race.
14 hours! That’s half the race!
Speaking of unbelievable things, Valentino Rossi is a seven-time Moto GP, a one-time 250cc World Champion, and a 125cc champion, but I expect most people already know this.
Since retiring from motorcycle racing in 2021, Rossi has been taking part in the GT World Challenge Europe, where he has had great success.
In his time in the series, he has taken three podiums, all being from this year, with one of them being a home race win Misano.
He did all of this with Team WRT, who are running BMW’s factory operation in the WEC, which Rossi is a factory driver for, so when it came to picking drivers, it was no surprise Rossi was one of them.
He knows the circuit as well, taking part in and winning the Road to Le man’s race in the GT3 class last year, which will hopefully put him in good stead for this year’s race.
Rossi will want to take home a few wins as well, and if results go his way he could be the first person to win both WEC and MotoGP championships.
Everyone outside of Formula 1 knows how quick of a driver Robert Kubica is as his raw pace over the past couple of years has been evident.
Yes, he did have that very disappointing return to Formula 1 where yes, he did beat George in the championship by a point, but he failed to out-qualify Russell over the whole season.
But this in the grand scheme of things he has been a blip in his amazing recovery after his 2011 rally crash.
Two years after the accident he became World Rally 2 champion, showing he can do it on tarmac and gravel.
He’s painstakingly missed out on the Le Mans 24-hour LMP2 victory, the last three years in a row, with the most painful being when the car broke down on the final lap in 2021.
This is made up for though with his championship in the ELMS in 2021, and this year’s LMP2 driver championship in the WEC, which he will forever go down as the last champion of.
The reason that Kubcia will be out to impress this is his graduation to the Hypercar class with AF Corsa, who will be running the first Ferrari 499p customer entry.
This will be the Polish driver’s highest profile drive since his Formula 1 return in 2019, and considering this is the car that won the race last year, this is a superb opportunity for him to finally add Le Mans to his accolade of achievements as a racing driver.
Plus, if he were to win the race/ the championship it would be a hugely popular result with fans, as everybody loves a comeback story.
Ilot has been very unlucky over his last few years of racing, finishing second in Formula 2 which saw him lose his chance at Formula 1, and then a fresh new start in IndyCar is ruined by a toxic fan base at Juncos Hollinger Racing.
He was only improving in the series with him taking his career-best fifth-place finishes at St Peterburg and Laguna Sega.
He has landed on his feet though since leaving the series, as Jota has snapped the young Brit up to drive their Porsche 963 in the WEC this season.
He has only made one previous start in the championship in the GTE AM class with Iron Lynx at the 24 hours of Le Mans.
Ilott achieved a third-place finish in class, meaning he has a 100% podium record in the championship, which is a good omen for Jota.
The reason that the Brit needs to impress this season is that this is a pivotal point in his career in his career he needs to succeed.
Not that he hasn’t already, but due to circumstances semi-out of his control, he has failed to leave a big enough mark in Formula 2 and IndyCar, that senior figures in the sports haven’t held on to him.
Therefore, apart from Formula E, this is the last big three series, that he can try to establish himself a name in, as if he does not, there is nothing he can full back on after this.
Plus, he is a driver people want to see winning, as he is a driver with a lot of support from his frustrating miss at Formula 1, as three drivers from the top five of that championship made it to Formula 1, with one of those not being so popular.
Nyck De Vries.
Nyck is another driver who looks to re-find his feet after being dropped from Alpha Tauri after just ten races in his Formula 1 career.
If you forget his short F1 run, De Vries is a very decorated driver with championships in Formula 2 in 2019 and Formula E in 2021.
Meanwhile, he is also a veteran in the WEC in the LMP2 class, where he took Victory in Fuji and a podium in Bahrain in his two years with Racing Team Nederland.
He had taken part in Le Mans every year from 2019 to 2022 where he achieved a best finish of 4th with TDS Racing x Valliante in the LMP2 class.
Before joining Toyota as a driver for this season, he was their reserve driver for the team between 2020-2022, so unlike some, he is aware of his surroundings heading into his debut season in the Hypercar class.
The reason he must impress is like Ilot, he needs to leave a mark on a series after a disastrous pointless Formula 1 season, so people are reminded of the driver he can be.
So being picked up so quickly by another manufacturer is important for his exit from Formula 1.
He is someone who will also have a lot of support, with his unfair exit from Formula 1, people will like to see him do well to show the Red Bull outfit they were wrong for dropping him.