Gustavo Menezes and Ryan Briscoe are both relishing their opportunities to be involved in the first season of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s new Le Mans Hypercar formula as members of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus driving squad.
Former Rebellion Racing LMP1 driver Menezes and Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Briscoe are the first confirmed drivers for the American constructor’s foray into the WEC.
Menezes was named next to the No. 709 SCG 007 LMH during Thursday’s reveal of the provisional full-season entry list while Briscoe, who is new to the series, was shown as the first member of the No. 708 crew.
Menezes’ signing with SCG means the American will remain in the top class after coming third in the last two world championship seasons with LMP1 privateer Rebellion Racing.
“2021 is a very important year because it’s the first year before the WEC comes fully back to life with its Hypercar brands coming back,” he told Sportscar365.
“We needed to do something to keep my results relevant and in front of everyone. I didn’t really want to do LMP2 unless it was with a brand that I could excel and perform at a high level with.
“I said to my manager, you should give Glickenhaus a call. We had a chat about their program, and it sounded very intriguing and exciting.
“They’re really motivated and have been putting a big amount of work in, with the announcement that they’re with Joest and Sauber. It shows their drive and push to win, not just to show up on the grid. With privateers, it’s not all the time that you see that.
“Just going from the outside with Kolles and even with Rebellion, it wasn’t always a real chance to win.
“Glickenhaus being an American manufacturer and myself being an American driver with experience on the grid, it was just the perfect situation and outcome.”
Menezes was a strong performer in Rebellion’s 2019-20 season LMP1 crew that claimed overall victories against Toyota at Shanghai and Circuit of The Americas.
This year the 26-year-old is set to continue battling Toyota in the renamed Hypercar class, with the Japanese marque fielding two examples of its new GR010 Hybrid LMH.
The dawn of the Hypercar era will see the introduction of a new Balance of Performance system following last season’s application of LMP1 success handicaps by car type.
However, Menezes said it’s too early to judge whether this will make for tighter racing compared to the handicaps which produced large race-by-race performance variations, or whether it will improve the non-hybrid teams’ 24 Hours of Le Mans victory chances.
“It’s hard to say anything before we know what the BoP will be like,” he said.
“Toyota has a new car and we have a new car. Everything is new, but at the same time we also know they have an all-wheel-drive system. This is a rear-wheel-drive turbocharged system with no hybrid. It’s difficult to know where we’ll be, in line with them.
“But I feel there’s a real opportunity. We’ll have to see where the BoP goes with the grandfathered LMP1 car, with us and Toyota. I think it could be really exciting and I really think the championship will be good EoT-wise, because we know there’s a big future for WEC.
“I’m just excited to be competing at Le Mans again, and this time with an American flag at the top of the podium, hopefully.
“One of the dreams I’ve always had is to compete for victory [there] and hopefully have a real chance of winning with an American team. To do that fighting in the overall category is a dream that’s become a reality. We’ll be giving it everything we’ve got this year.”
Briscoe “Excited” to Discover “What LMH is All About”
Like Menezes, Briscoe has ensured his continuation in top-level prototype racing courtesy of his involvement with Glickenhaus, off the back of a season in the DPi formula.
The former IndyCar and Ford GT racer came second in last year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi standings driving for Wayne Taylor Racing and won at Daytona and Motul Petit Le Mans, but was left without a full-time ride for 2021.
“It’s a great opportunity to go back to Le Mans and compete for the overall win with a great group of people doing something quite extraordinary as a privateer entry,” Briscoe told Sportscar365.
“I’m excited to join the team. I haven’t met anybody yet, so it’s all very new. I’m excited to get involved with the team and get testing underway to see what this LMH is all about.
“I certainly think that my recent experience in DPi complements what I’m trying to achieve in LMH with Glickenhaus.
“For sure not having a full-time DPi seat, I’ll miss the cars and the speed they deliver, but it’s opened the door for other opportunities like racing at Daytona with Scuderia Corsa and with Glickenhaus.”
SCG owner Jim Glickenhaus told Sportscar365 earlier this month that his team is looking to form a lineup with a “mix of very experienced pilots and young, fast, up-and-coming guys.”
Glickenhaus added that he has “had some surprising names” come forward with interest to drive the team’s LMH car, which is being developed by Podium Advanced Technologies.
The team is hoping to conduct the first rollout test of its 3.8-liter V8-powered prototype before the end of this month, while the rest of its diver lineup is yet to be announced.