Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus announced a notable roster of seven drivers ahead of their WEC 2021 debut – what do they bring to the team?
Glickenhaus has certainly been one of the talking points in the build-up to Le Mans Hypercars and the debut at Portimão.
On social media, we see them steadily build their 007 LMH, and get a glimpse of the Pipo Moteurs twin-turbo V8 engine in partnership with Podium Engineering of Italy.
Then we hear of their phases leading up to their WEC debut this April, including the notable support of Joest Racing in their LMH programme.
And now we know the exciting roster of drivers who will each take the helm of an SCG 007 LMH in Glickenhaus’ maiden WEC campaign.
“each driver is both humble about the challenge of winning – and they also can envision us winning.”
JESSE gLICKENHAUS, mANAGING dIRECTOR OF scg
The seven drivers and six seats implies that two drivers may swap at least one point during this year.
One commonality for all of them, is their experience in the endurance discipline with a mix of Sebring 12 Hours winners, Le Mans 24 Hours winners, and further accolades across various endurance campaigns.
The following piece will brief down each driver, and imply what they could bring to Glickenhaus Racing given their own motorsport history.
Ryan Briscoe – Multiple success stories in American sportscar racing
The 39-year-old Australian-American has a career differentiated into open-wheelers and sportscars.
From 2002, he was a Toyota F1 test driver who made multiple appearances in their car over the two years, but soon began the start of his notable 10-year career in Indycar.
He started with Ganassi in ’05 and ended as Schmidt Peterson’s replacement driver at the ’15 Indy 500 (and the remainder of the season) after James Hinchcliffe sustained injuries from a crash in qualifying.
Alongside the Indy commitments, he pursued the sportscar discipline that he still competes in to this day.
He won several iconic races since his debut in the Rolex Sportcar Series. In six annual appearances, he raced in the opening Daytona 24 Hours round.
His debut in Ganassi’s Riley DP (Daytona Prototype) landed him, Scott Pruett, and Lúis Diaz in seventh spot overall.
He intertwined the Rolex Sportscar Series, and the two years of American Le Mans Series’ LMP2 outings for Penske.
He gathered a handful of Penske wins and got a personal best of third in the standings in 2007, but a major win came in the following year as a victor of the Petit Le Mans.
With Level 5 Motorsports in 2013, he grasped another American sportscar accolade in the form of the 12 Hours of Sebring class-win in a HPD LMP2 car.
Whilst he became an IMSA WeatherTech Vice-Champion on three occasions, he did grasp another Sebring 12H in 2015 and three Daytona 24 Hours wins – one with Corvette Racing (2015), Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (2018) and an overall win in a Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi (2020).
This consistency and experience in American sportscar racing ties well into his success, and will know the winning ways at the Rolex 24 come the time Glickenhaus enter into LMDh – having raced the event 13 times.
He joined Richard Westbrook, another driver on this list, and Indycar champion Scott Dixon over every 24 Hours of Le Mans that the Ford GT LM programme entered. Their best finish was on the first attempt in 2016 with third in-class.
A combination of experience working with a fellow veteran as Westbrook only makes it easier to familiarise themselves with the SCG 007 LMH and how to maximise its potential for winning chances.
Pipo Derani – A young face with five years in sportcars
The second-youngest driver in this list only made the step to LMP1 in Season 8 (2019-20), joining Rebellion Racing (and a driver later on this list, Gustavo Menezes) at the 4 Hours of Silverstone opener.
His WEC career spans across five years, four teams and three categories, including Le Mans outings for G Drive and ESM Racing, and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK.
His Ford GTE-Pro outing was the 2017 6H Silverstone (class winner) and Spa rounds, and a second placed-Le Mans 24H race.
So, an experience of multi-class in his span of the WEC puts him in an ideal position to take control of a Glickenhaus Hypercar, due to his understanding of the variety of cars that race in the WEC.
He also has an impressive 95% finish rate across the 22 races he has entered so far – so he knows how to bring the car home in a discipline where being too eager can cost results.
Romain Dumas – A WEC champion returns to the top tier once again
We have a former WEC champion returning to the top of the grid – in particular, the 2016 Drivers’ Champion for LMP1 for Porsche.
The Frenchman will be driving in his fourth top-class team at Portimão this year, with past outings including Audi Sport, Porsche and Rebellion Racing (only the 2020 Le Mans 24H).
He also resides in an exclusive accolade as one of two drivers to win outright for two manufacturers (Audi and Porsche).
He continued attending Le Mans since 2016 with Alpine in LMP2, Porsche in GTE-Pro, Duqueine Engineering, and Rebellion with their #3 entry last year.
In summary, a series of valuable outings across the various categories.
Besides his numerous GT endurance outings in recent years, he will be motivated to race in the top category once again against Toyota GAZOO Racing, a familiar rival team.
“New prototype in a new class ; it will be for sure very interesting.
“This is always it in the first year. I will bring my experience among drivers that know well [of] endurance.”
Franck Mailleux – Running part of the Glickenhaus family since ’16
The last time the Frenchman drove in the WEC, the regulations still allowed for open-top LMPs, or at least every since LMP2 he selectively drove from 2012 to 2014.
However, his six year absence from the WEC is not a worry or the main focus, or the fact his last full season was in 2012.
In fact, it’s the 35-year-old’s rapport and relationship with Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus stretching five years. Think of him as a committed factory driver of the group.
Whilst he dipped into European Le Mans Series in 2017, his main commitments resided in GT endurance and mostly for Glickenhaus.
His maiden SCG outing was at the 2016 24 Hours of Nurburgring, an event which he had first done back in a VW Scirocco, 2009.
He jumped into the middle of their timeline at the Green Hell and made the most when the #704 Lightspeed Racing Glickenhaus secured a pole-position during the top-30 qualifying shootout, asserting their pace against the main and mighty GT3s.
Admittingly, it was in the hands of Jeff Westphal, so in a teammate car, but the time of 8:15.427 was six-tenths quicker than a factory Audi R8 LMS and proved the outright pace of the SCG 003C.
Mailleux seemingly performed well in his stints during the race and got his #702 Traum Motorsport in 19th spot overall and claimed another class win (SPX, homologated entries) – impressive work against the big GTS boys.
The following year also saw an official Glickenhaus factory #705 entry secure the same results, a marque of consistency to finish ahead of two SP9s (FIA GT3 – top class) cars.
The Frenchman also raced in VLN and and 24H Series GT events that Glickenhaus has entered in, again situating himself as a family member.
Without surprise, Glickenhaus had improved drastically at the 2019 to secure eighth overall beating eight SP9 entries.
Of course Mailleux did not ‘carry’ the car, but he performed strongly over a number of years in what was a team efforts, hence another class win and 14th overall in 2020 when joined by Richard Westbrook – a late signing who proved competent in his stints.
As a family/factory driver, Mailleux now has the chance to return to Le Mans’s top class after 10 years since debuting and claiming second in LMP2.
It may not be the Aston Martin Lola LMP1, but the 007 LMH will be a suitable package for him to adapt to.
Gustavo Menezes – Young talent, eagerness and opponent knowledge
The American is the youngest driver on this list with the least racing experience on paper, but that experience being amongst the most recent in the Rebellion Racing LMP1 seat of Season 8.
Despite the success handicap that was attempted to establish racing, now replaced by a more promising and traditional balance of performance infrastructure, Gustavo knows Toyota. At least as a primary rival.
The 26-year-old is the youngest on this list joined by another young face only a year older (Derani), and the others who are over 10 years older by age, but have over 10 years of motorsport under their belts.
But one should not doubt Menezes as his quality will allow him to grow and continue to learn the top-tier endurance discipline which such mentors around him.
He has five years of WEC/Le Mans experience, firstly with Signatech Alpine’s LMP2 commitments in 2016, when he won his maiden Le Mans 24 Hours race and became a WEC LMP2 World Champion, and 2017.
So he has experience around the Alpine team workings, plus has effectively driven their upcoming LMH for this year which will be a Rebellion R13 Gibson re-badged into an Alpine A480 – the French sports car manufacturer do intend to build a bespoke LMH from 2022.
It is also worth mentioning that he partnered Romain Dumas at the 2017 Le Mans event, so he is already familiar with the multiple Le Mans winner as a teammate.
With such youthful success in sportscar racing, it is clear that he is eager as ever to continue a brand of success in the more authentic top-level racing of Hypercar.
Olivier Pla – ELMS champion, two-time WEC LMP2 vice-champion and a real chance in the top class
The Frenchman was amongst drivers like Marino Franchitti who were going to drive for Peugeot’s WEC debut in a LMP1 hybrid car back in 2012.
Since they made a surprising, late exit out of that campaign before it begun, Pla went to Oak Racing for two years in their Morgan LMP2.
After the 2014 season with G Drive Racing, he was twice a vice-champion in a row and was keen to make use of the step to an LMP1-Hybrid in 2015 – the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo.
Unfortunately, the car failed its crash tests and missed the opening 6 Hours of Silverstone round of that WEC season.
At the Le Mans 24 Hours, it underperformed as it could not run the hybrid drive (flywheel) element of the powertrain, thus not delivering the intended 1,250bhp max output. Only 500 bhp was possible.
This meant it was slower than a proportion of the LMP2 field, and Pla’s #23 entry retired on lap 234 due to gearbox issues.
With only one of three runners still running, it never officially classified to the end due to its poor pace – Pla’s LMP1 hopes were clearly not destined with Nissan.
His remaining WEC ventures were in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK for three races in 2017, then went into IMSA DPi duties.
This new Glickenhaus seat gives him the opportunity to fight at the top of the WEC as he was denied all those years ago, and get the top-level world championship that the 39-year-old is capable of achieving.
Richard Westbrook – Experience in the discipline, a N24 outing for SCG
The 45-year-old recently competed in two rounds of last season’s WEC; one at the 2020 Le Mans 24H as a third driver in the #95 Aston Martin, where he joined the Dane-Train to a third place in GTE-Pro.
Then he replaced Augusto Farfus at the 8H Bahrain finale and claimed fourth in-class.
But in between these races he drove a late-drafted outing for Glickenhaus at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
The American marque debuted the SCG 004C, the successor to the 003C in the SPX class.
A rain-soaked nature of the N24 led to drama, incidents, and eventually a seven-hour red flag period defined the 48th running.
Along with Mailleux, Westbrook partnered Thomas Mutsch and Felipe Fernandez Laser in the #704 to secure that fourteenth overall spot in the 004C SPX-endurance spec.
Needless to say, his experience in sportscars makes his presence a talking point from his Corvette and Ford factory driver duties, plus his attendance at the last 10 Le Mans events.
The experience he brings is a valuable asset to SCG, but his commitment with the teams he has raced in clearly shows his ability to work as a team member – as with the drivers on this list he already partnered with in previous campaigns.
His Le Mans 24 Hours races have all been in GT cars, and have not yet seen him a class-victor – perhaps now he can secure a maiden win at the top class.
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It is clear the Glickenhaus has brought in a strong and talented lineup of drivers, most of whom stand out with their experience, but also through their driving ability that has brought themselves success for all of them in one way or another.
As it will emerge on whom will take pilot of which of the two cars, it is certainly an exciting prospect to see these drivers together for the 2021 season.
Glickenhaus’ logical approach on sourcing the expertise of knowledge and resources upon already successful sportscar drivers and racing outfits could prove advantageous.
Will Glickenhaus overcome on the reigning champions, Toyota GAZOO Racing? The story begins at Portimão.