Lilou Wadoux enjoys IMSA debut at Watkins Glen, gears up for 24H of Spa
Lilou Wadoux returned to LMP2 competition with a debut race in the IMSA at the 6 Hours of the Glen - finishing sixth and driving an Oreca-07 for the first time in 2023. Her busy season will now continue with another legendary race: the 24 Hours of Spa.
Lilou Wadoux returned to LMP2 competition with a debut race in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship at Watkins Glen. Competing for AF Corse, Wadoux finished sixth in the LMP2 class, driving an Oreca-07 for the first time in 2023. The multi-class racing provided by the 57 car grid enabled Lilou to continue her development as a Ferrari factory driver, supplementing her full season programme in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Lilou’s last appearance in LMP2 machinery came in the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in November 2022, where she competed for Richard Mille Racing Team in the eight hours of Bahrain. Teaming up with her current bronze rated teammate Luis Perez Companc and Ferrari Hypercar driver Nicklas Nielsen, this was Wadoux’s first foray into the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship.
Two practice sessions gave the trio a chance to familiarise themselves with the Oreca-07 and dial in a setup ahead of the challenging 6 hour race. After a dry start to the session, steady rain fell for the majority of the 90 minutes, with Lilou getting valuable experience in the tricky conditions. Practice two was dry throughout and although interrupted by multiple red-flags, the #88 AF Corse machine completed 40 laps with Wadoux setting the fastest lap time, finishing both practice sessions ninth fastest in LMP2.
As the bronze rated driver in the team, Perez Companc was scheduled to take part in qualifying. However, heavy rainfall led to an early red flag in the session with qualifying subsequently abandoned. As a result, the starting line-up was set by championship points and with this event serving as the season debut for AF Corse, the #88 Oreca-07 would line up ninth in LMP2.
Making his return to LMP2 competition for the first time since 2013, Perez Companc took the start and did a superb job to avoid opening lap incidents and move into the top-5 by lap 14. Showing excellent racecraft and taking full advantage of his experience racing at Watkins Glen in the GTD class last year, Perez Companc moved into second by lap 16, before assuming the lead at the second full course yellow period.
The Argentine driver held the lead into the second hour and enjoyed a close battle with George Kurtz before handing over to Lilou with just under four hours and 20 minutes remaining. After the car was issued with a penalty for speeding in the pitlane, Wadoux was running in fifth and did her best to remain on the lead lap. Despite limited dry practice and Watkins Glen being a new circuit to Lilou, she quickly increased her pace and although falling a lap off the lead after serving the penalty, she set a personal best time on lap 68.
Managing both faster and slower traffic effectively, Wadoux was able to maintain position during her opening stint and continue to bring down her lap times. This resulted in another personal best on lap 91 as she aimed to make up for lost ground, doing superbly to hold her own against fellow LMP2 drivers with greater IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship experience. This allowed the #88 AF Corse machine to hold its position in the top-5 as the race passed halfway, with Wadoux then handing over to fellow Ferrari factory driver Nicklas Nielsen.
After being penalised for too many personnel working on the car during the pitstop, Nielsen did his best to make up for lost time and with less than two hours to go, he set the fastest lap time in the LMP2 category. Following a spell of pressure from Kyffin Simpson, the #88 Oreca-07 dropped to sixth in the closing stages with the full course caution periods falling at unfortunate times for the team to regain their lost lap. Nonetheless, a sixth place finish was an encouraging performance with a team of drivers who had very little LMP2 experience this season prior to Watkins Glen.
Lilou once again proved her versatility by showing excellent speed in her return to the LMP2 category. Making her debut in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship was another milestone, with Watkins Glen another new track to tick off the list.
Wadoux will return to action in just a week's time, as the Ferrari factory driver will join AF Corse aboard the #52 Ferrari 488 GT3 for another legendary race: the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. It will be Lilou's first start in SRO, as she joins Louis Machiels, Jef Machiels, Andrea Bertolini in a very competitive crew for the biggest GT3 race on the planet.
One week later, she will be back in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Monza, where she will be searching for her second victory of the season.