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Career Ladder - Interview with Thomas Laurent

ELMS - 12/02/2018 - Jeff CARTER

ELMS driver Thomas Laurent has enjoyed a meteoric start to his endurance racing career and just two years after starting in LMP3 in the European Le Mans Series and winning the Road to Le Mans, he will line up on the 2018 FIA World Endurance grid behind the wheel of a Rebellion Racing LMP1 class R13-Gibson.

The 19-year-old French driver had won several karting championships, including the CIK-FIA International Super Cup - KZ2, before moving to cars at the age of 17.  Instead of choosing the usual single seater route, Laurent decided to take a different road. He chose endurance racing and teamed up with M. Racing-YMR in the 2016 European Le Mans Series, finishing on the top step of the podium in the final race of the year in Estoril alongside Yann Ehrlacher and Alexandre Cougnaud. 

The young French driver also secured the top step of the podium with Cougnaud at the 2016 Road to Le Mans race in front of 250,000 fans just before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 2017 Laurent moved up to the LMP2 category in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Jackie Chan DC Racing.  Racing alongside Oliver Jarvis and Ho Pin Tung three wins followed including the LMP2 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and an overall podium when the no38 Oreca-Gibson finished 2nd in the race behind the no2 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Now in 2018 Thomas Laurent will compete in two championships. In the FIA World Endurance Championship, he will move up to the top class in endurance racing – LMP1, where he will join the Rebellion Racing team.  Laurent will also compete in the 2018 European Le Mans Series in the no31 APR-Rebellion Racing Oreca-Gibson alongside Harrison Newey.

Thomas Laurent becomes the first driver to progress through the three Le Mans Prototype categories, in just three seasons moving from LMP3 to LMP2 and onto LMP1.  We caught up with the French driver at the launch of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans in Paris.

“It has been a very quick progression from P3 to P1 but now the step is really high, and I need to be at the level.  We will try very hard to have a good car and a good team.  We have a really strong line up with the six drivers at Rebellion. It is not the first year in LMP1 for Rebellion so they know what to expect and I think Oreca will give us a really strong car to fight well. 

“I don’t feel like a model but I want to talk about my career in LMP to encourage other drivers to follow me as I have shown what can be done.  I think the future is in endurance for drivers.  Formula One is nice but you need a big budget to get to that level.  If you start like me in LMP3 it is a lot cheaper and, like me, you can do LMP3, LMP2 and LMP1. I am proud to be the first to do this and I am sure I won’t be the last.”

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