Belgian Formula E and former F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne is joining MissionH24 and will work alongside Frenchman Norman Nato on the performance development programme of the H24Racing team’s electric-hydrogen-powered prototypes as the team prepares to accelerate the development of the project ahead of a planned 2021 Michelin Le Mans Cup race programme with a pair of yet-to-be-announced race drivers and in support of the development of regulations for the planned 2024 electric-hydrogen category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Both Vandoorne and Nato have hybrid-powered or 100% electric top-level race and testing form, their primary role will be to assist Mission24 to boost development and increase the pace of its private testing programme.
The pair were rivals on their debut in single-seater racing in F4) and know each other very well, training together on a regular basis in karts and sharing their physical fitness programme.
They will be team-mates for the first time and in a few weeks they will kick off MissionH24’s private 2021 test programme by giving the new H24 prototype its shakedown test, the car unveiled at Le Mans in September last year as the successor to the original LMPH2G technology demonstrator, both cars based on Adess LMP3 chassis.
Nato and Vandoorne will undertake development work on the new car when their racing commitments allow (they are both entered for the Formula E World Championship, Nato with the ROKiT Venturi Racing outfit and Vandoorne with Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team with Vandoorne also set to contest the Asian Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship with JOTA) or separately when their agendas prevent them from being together.
MissionH24 and the H24Racing team will shortly announce the names of the other two drivers who will contest the rounds of the 2021 Michelin Le Mans Cup at the wheel of the H24.
Jean-Michel Bouresche, Mission H24 operations manager, H24 Racing Team Principal: “Stoffel Vandoorne and Norman Nato are just the duo we need to speed up the performance development of our two electric-hydrogen-powered prototypes. They’re among the quickest circuit racing drivers in the world. They’re also two guys who like working as a team with the technicians. So we know that with them we’ll always be at the limits of what the car can give. A racing prototype, a team, a programme can only make progress when the bar is being continually raised by the best people from the beginning to the end of the chain. The final links of this chain are the drivers. Stoffel and Norman bring us their know-how in the field of performance and their experience of the new generation Formula E racing cars, in particular. I’m very happy that in addition to their already very full sporting programmes they have both accepted to be our two benchmark drivers.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “I’m very happy to be joining MissionH24 and the H24 Racing team and I’d like to thank Jean-Michel Bouresche for asking me to come on board. I’ve got several reasons to be enthusiastic; first of all to be taking part in this innovative programme that is building one of the futures of motor sport, which is a great opportunity for any driver that’s passionate about innovations like I am. And then to know that I’m going to be working with my friend Norman Nato is a great pleasure. We’ve always been friends off the track; we’ve been rivals but never team-mates. And finally, here we are together as team-mates on the same project on which he’s been working for two years: namely, to make electric-hydrogen power competitive in endurance. It’s just the kind of sporting and technological challenge I love. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new H24 prototype!”
Norman Nato: “Sharing driving duties with Stoffel for H24Racing is the first piece of good news of 2021. We’ve been friends for so long and at last we’re finally going to drive the same car for the same team. I’ve been involved with MissionH24 since its launch in 2018 and I’m going to help him discover what it is in this programme that really fires my enthusiasm, namely: being involved in the development of a technology with immense potential with GreenGT, specialist in high-power electric-hydrogen technology, with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which is pioneering the path of the future of endurance, and the partners who are doing everything they can to be the precursors. Today we’re working as trail-blazers for tomorrow!”