There were stories galore emerging at the post-WEC Rookie Test end of year party in Bahrain, which also doubled up as the awards night for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’.
The dress code for the evening was ‘Christmas Jumpers’ and it proved to be a night where the status quo of reality was suspended as some very well known names indeed arrived in some truly terrible knitwear!
The Awards Night part of the evening saw WEC TV’s Allan McNish and Louise Beckett hare through a quickfire series of post-season videos and trophy awards, including to all of the class winners, an event that was moved indoors at just a few hours notice as heavy rain moved in.
Fernando Alonso was on hand, in a Christmas Jumper, to join his Championship winning team-mates for the awards, and for a post-trophy-accepting kebab!
There were plenty of surprises in store, including the size of the LMP2 Championship-winning trophy, won by Signatech Alpine, the silverware actually bigger than team driver Andre Negrao!
A perhaps not totally serious Gerard Neveu later commented that the almost comedically differently sized trophy was a response to complaints from some LMP2 teams the following season about the size of the trophy!
The Awards for the evening were presented by ACO President Pierre Fillon and FIA Endurance Committee President Richard Mille.
All-Female Crewed LMP2 Entry Set For 2020 ELMS
Mr Mille revealed in some opening remarks that we are set to see an as-yet-unannounced additional LMP2 entry in the ELMS for 2020 featuring an all-female crew, he told the DSC Editor later in the evening that there are still further matters to finalise before the entry will be revealed but that this was intended to be a further progression, allowing further progress for female racers in endurance, part of an ongoing and progressive programme promoting opportunities for women both in the cockpit and beyond.
The now traditional special awards came towards the end of proceedings with a series of popular decisions roundly cheered and applauded by the WEC paddock-filed audience.
Rookie of the Year went to Porsche’ Matteo Cairoli, a young man who can feel very unlucky indeed not to have been given the nod this year as a full factory driver.
Blindingly quick, with excellent racecraft and truly a joy to spend paddock time with, Cairoli was the deserved winner here and surely has a full-factory future not too far away.
Gentleman Driver of the Year went to a Championship winning driver in the Super Season, and oddly enough to Cairoli’s current team-mate at Team Project 1, Egidio Perfetti, the very Italian Norwegian confectioner a popular addition to the WEC paddock last season.
He has forged a reputation on track as a force to be reckoned with, and off-track as a man with a smile never far away!
The Pierre Coiffier Award is a very special one to the WEC family, named for Pierre a key and popular member of the event team, taken way too soon, and representing the spirit that he showed in doing his job, a true exponent of the ‘Spirit of Endurance.”
The award this year was accepted by Xavier Combet on behalf of TDS Racing after the whole team (together with members of the Jota and Gulf Racing crews), helped to assist teams stranded by a major technical fault on their incoming Air France flight to Shanghai last year.
Containers were unpacked and garages partly assembled saving the delayed and fatigued crews valuable hours on arrival.
The final special award was the ‘Excellence’ award, and it was WEC stalwart and now four-time Le Mans LMP2 winner Nico Lapierre that was a popular victor here.
Mr 100% has taken a win every time he has contested the class at Le Mans and he’ll be back in 2020 with his new team, Cool Racing.
Dan Sayers Leaves AMR
There was one final surprise for the DSC Editor later in the evening as Aston Martin Racing’s Technical Director Dan Sayers revealed that he has left AMR for a new role as Head of Technical Operations at Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Bahrain his last event with AMR having already, officially left the company.
Whilst tight-lipped about the specifics of his new role it is clear that it involves a significant level of responsibility for the Aston Martin Valkyrie project, apparently in both ‘road’ and Le Mans HyperCar race versions.
Dan has been responsible for the design and delivery projects for a range of recent (and not so recent) Aston Martin GT projects including the current range of Vantage race cars, and the previous round of GTE and GT3 machines.
Good luck Dan for what comes next.