Josh Pierson is set to become the youngest driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend and the 16-year-old American thinks he can “hold his head high” at the honour.
Pierson will be 16 years and 118 days old when he takes part in the FIA World Endurance Championship race next weekend in the no23 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson.
The teenager made his sports car racing debut this year having previously raced in F2000 in the United States.
His age will beat the 16-year-202-day status of fellow American Matt McMurry, who became the youngest driver at Le Mans when he contested the 2014 race in a Greaves Motorsport LMP2 car.
“It’s something that’s in my head, but for me it’s just a nice bonus,” Pierson said.
“Coming to such a historic event and being a part of that story, no matter what, is something special.
“It takes a bit of the pressure off and for me it’s something that, you know, I can hold my head up knowing that I’ll be part of the deep history of Le Mans.
“I think Le Mans is a special event for me. Growing up, I watched a lot of documentaries and a lot of movies about it.
“Ford v Ferrari which came out more recently, and [the] Truth in 24 documentary on Audi.
“So I always loved this event, I always wanted to compete and I always wanted to win. So I’m happy to be here and to have this opportunity.
Pierson noted that Le Mans naturally brings more pressure than other sports car racing, but he is reassured about how he has settled into the LMP2 environment.
“There is more history involved in this event than the others we have attended so far this year,” he said.
“But for me it’s just getting back behind the wheel and doing my job and what I’ve been doing for the rest of the season.
“We had a good result at Sebring and a dream start to the year. Then at Spa we had a good race before the gate unfortunately broke, but I will focus on the race ahead and do my job.
“I am convinced that Alex [Lynn] and oliver [Jarvis] will do what they are supposed to do and do their job to the fullest.
Pierson has won three LMP2 wins from eight races so far this year.
He and di Resta won the double Asian Le Mans Series in Abu Dhabi before winning in class at the 1000 Miles of Sebring alongside Jarvis.
Pierson’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports has so far yielded a best finish of fourth at two rounds, including the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“I’m able to keep gaining confidence and every time I’m in the car I’m a bit quicker,” he suggested.
“When you look at Spa when I had to come through the field after our bad qualifying session, I think every time in this car I get more confident and I’m a bit quicker.
“I think the win at Sebring was a big boost of confidence for the next two races and even though I didn’t have a good result there, I’m confident in my abilities and in Alex and Oliver to do the job they’re there for.
“I think I can go into this race with confidence anyway, but it was definitely a big confidence boost for us.”
Pierson was in good hands with the support of three experienced Platinum-rated riders.
Lynn and Jarvis sent him “detailed notes” to review ahead of Le Mans, while di Resta was brought in to provide support on the test day as the other two drivers returned from the IMSA race in Detroit.
“I think I have a good team under me, that will teach me what I need to know before the race,” said Pierson.
“We have a solid crew behind us with the #23 car. So I’m confident in our ability to go out and win this race, but it will depend on how we play it.