Few, but important driver category changes

The FIA Driver Categorisation Committee has announced the changes for the sportcar drivers in 2021.

The categorisation consists of 4 categories, from Bronze in the bottom, for the drivers with limited experience in a racing car, or if they have hit a certain age, via Silver ranking for amateurs or young talents, to Gold and Platinum, which more or less is the same – i.e. a professional driver, or drivers that show the same pace as professional drivers.

The majority of the just shy of 4000 drivers on the list, will keep their rating. But there are a few significant ones, who move either up or down the ladder. That can either be based on them becoming faster or more professional than in 2020, or if they have crossed the 50, 55 or 60-year-old threshold. Once you have turned 50 years old, it’s no longer possible to be upgraded, which has been seen with Henrik Hedman, that is locked in as Bronze, even though he raced in LMP1 in 2018/19, which actually isn’t allowed for Bronze rated drivers.

Let’s start with well-known drivers, who move down the list. Soheil Ayari is well known to sportscar fans in the noughties, where he raced for the Pescarolo, with both positive and negative things surrounding him. He moved down to Silver ranking, since he has turned 50.

Bryan Herta moves down to Bronze, since he has turned 50 years old, and it’s been several years since he has done other things than low-key races in most recent years. That makes him very attractive for the new LMP3 category in the USA – if he has the time to compete, since he is deeply engaged in running his own team, where he is running the works team for Hyundai in the USA

Japanese driver Takeshi Kogure moves from Platinum to Gold, since he no longer is a Honda works driver, which is he was 15 seasons, including being their Formula 1 test driver.

American Eric Lux will move down to Bronze, since his motorsport career more or less has come to a halt, since he was a fixed part of the American Le Mans Series in the LMPC cars.

Sylvain Trembley was part of the Mazda LMP2 team for several seasons, where he was both racing and being the team owner of Speedsource. He has turned 55, so he is rated as Bronze now.

Sheena Monk has experience from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series, where she actually was a Silver-rated driver, but can be happy about a Bronze rating in 2021.

Johnny Mowlem has turned 50 years old, and moves from Gold to Silver. The question is if he will take that up, or if he will keep focussing more on his company Red River Sport, that made its Le Mans debut in 2020, and planning to do even more races in the coming seasons.

Scott Pruett has passed the 60 years, so he moves to the lowest level, Bronze. He has probably quitted racing by now, and stays home by his family, that he always used to send greetings to, in every single radio and tv interview throughout his career.

Ines Taittinger moves from Silver to bronze. The French driver is part of the champagne family, raced an LMP2 car a few years back, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We will have to see if she soon will return.

Japanese Shinichi Takagi has been allowed from Gold to Silver, despite winning the Super GT GT300 title in 2019 in Japan.

The countryman of Takagi, Tetsuya Yamano has turned 55, so the quadruple GT300 Champion will move down to Bronze.

Ines Taittinger
Photo: JJ Media

And now onto the drivers, that move up.

Phil Hanson will finally move from Silver to Gold. The Brit made his Debut in the Asian Le Mans Series in the 2016/17 season, before moving into the European Le Mans Series. He has been part of United Autosports since 2018, racing in the Asian Le Mans Series, European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship, on top of their IMSA starts in 2018. Hanson has often been near the top of the timing charts, which has lifted many an eyebrow amongst the competition – especially since he kept his rating, following his Asian LMS title. 2020 has been an amazing year for him, winning the LMP2 titles in European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship, on top of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So there is no way past an upgrade.

Mikkel Jensen will also be upgraded to Gold. The former BMW junior driver was allowed to keep Silver rating in 2020, despite him winning the LMP3 title in the European Le Mans Series in 2019, and constantly being near the top of the charts throughout the 2019 season, and the previous seasons too.

Newly crowned Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Champion, Larry ten Voorde will be upgraded from Silver to Gold, since that title automatic results in an upgrade. He has been enjoying the Silver raking, being part of the Team Project 1 Porsche in the FIA WEC, including Le Mans.

Andrea Caldarelli moves up the list, going from Gold to Platinum, due to his Lamborghini works driver contract.

That is exactly the same for Daniel Serra, who has been a works driver for several teams, and currently hired by Ferrari.

Marcos Gomes will move from Silver to Gold. Gomes is known from the Asian Le Mans Series, where he was part of the title-winning outfit in the 2019/20 season, ahead of his Le Mans debut in September 2020 for HubAuto Corse Ferrari.

There are a few other names, either moving up or down, but not of any well-known status.

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