Journal De Bruxelles - At 16, Pierson breaks Le Mans age record

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At 16, Pierson breaks Le Mans age record
At 16, Pierson breaks Le Mans age record / Photo: Damien MEYER - AFP

At 16, Pierson breaks Le Mans age record

Josh Pierson took to the track two hours into the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday to become the youngest driver in race history at 16 years and 118 days.

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The record had been expected since the American was named alongside experienced Britons Alexander Lynn and Oliver Jarvis as one of the three drivers for the United Autosports Oreca in the second-tier LMP2 class.

The car struggled with early technical issues and was 13th when Pierson took the wheel shortly after 18:00 local time (1600 GMT).

As he drove onto the track, Pierson broke the record held by compatriot Matt McMurry who was 16 years and 202 days when he drove in 2014.

Pierson had been a focus of attention in the run up to the race.

"It's something be a part of history at such a young age but I think I'm ready," he told the race website.

"My participation does bring a lot of attention, but it's really all about me being the youngest. So no bother," he said.

"It takes a lot of pressure off myself knowing that people don't have high expectations of me. If I do bad, people will look at it and say that I'm still learning and if I have a good result, people are really impressed."

Pierson, who is from Portland, Oregon, started karting at the age of two and took the wheel in LMP2 for the first time last year.

This season he has won twice in the Asian Le Mans Series and once in the LMP2 class at the 1,000 miles of Sebring.

At the other end of the scale, the oldest driver in the event, 65-year-old German Pierre Ehret, also took the wheel of his car, the Iron Lynx Ferrari, shortly before 6:00 pm.

He almost immediately went off the track following a collision but was able to restart quickly.

This is his tenth appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pierson was not even born when he made his debut in 2005.

Of the 186 drivers, only five are women, half as many as in 1935.

Young Frenchwoman Lilou Wadoux is in Sebastien Ogier's team. German Sophia Floersch, who was five laps down after finishing in the gravel at the start, is in the Oreca of Algarve Pro Racing.

The other three women, Rahel Frey (Switzerland), Michelle Gatting (Denmark) and Sarah Bovy (Belgium) are driving the Iron Dames Ferrari. They were slowed by a puncture in the opening laps.