Today is a red sign for Bent Viscaal. The 23-year-old Dutchman has signed with the renowned Prema Racing for a season in the World Endurance Championship (WEC). The top rookie of the 2022 European Le Mans Series season will thus be promoted to the highest class of endurance racing.
For Viscaal, the previous racing year was one that tested his adaptability. After all, the talented ‘Tukker’, as people from the eastern region in The Netherlands are called, switched to long-distance racing after five years in motor racing and thus literally got a roof over his head. The Albergen resident had no trouble at all with the switch: already in his first endurance race, Viscaal drove to a convincing podium finish.
“Prema Racing is one of the most famous and successful teams in racing”
Bent Viscaal – WEC driver at Prema Racing
During the ELMS year, Viscaal emerged as a former long-distance driver. Several times the Dutchman drove from the backfield to the front, with his masterclasses at Imola and Monza taking the crown. However, the single podium finish and four additional points finishes did not honor the scoreboard. Too often, Viscaal found himself in a situation where bad luck played a particularly large role and, as a result, had to settle for ninth place in the championship at the close of the market.
It was clear to the outside world, however, that Viscaal was the most promising addition to the endurance paddock. Consequently, the youngster was also awarded the title “Rookie of The Year. Prema Racing, which captured the driver and team title in the ELMS in 2022 and is moving up to the World Championship (WEC) for the upcoming season, invited Viscaal to the rookie test at the Bahrain circuit. There the Tukker excelled by posting the fastest lap time.
Because of his strong test performance, Prema Racing offered Viscaal a contract for the 2023 WEC season, in which the youngster can drive the car with start number 9. American driver Juan Manuel Correa and Viscaal’s old teammate Filip Ugran of Romania complete the driver trio, although Correa will miss some races due to his Formula 2 tenure. In those cases, Italian driver Andrea Caldarelli will join Viscaal and Ugran.
“I feel honored to drive for Prema Racing in the WEC next year,” Viscaal let slip from the east of the Netherlands. “As a young guy I always watched the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race that is part of the WEC championship. Last year I got the chance to participate in that race, this year I get to finish the complete year in the World Championship. This is obviously the highest achievement for an endurance driver.”
“Prema Racing is one of the most famous and successful teams in racing outside of Formula One. I have often competed against drivers who drove for Prema Racing and almost always those drivers won the championship. So the time-honored English saying that whoever cannot beat the opponent should join that one, is applicable to me now,” the Dutch driver chuckles.
“My teammates Juan Manuel and Filip are guys I’ve known for a while now. Juan Manuel is a fighter and has already earned his spurs in the endurance world, winning in the ELMS last year. Filip is just starting out, but has made a huge impression in two ELMS races. I am happy to share the car with Juan Manuel and Filip. Andrea Caldarelli, who replaces Juan Manuel when he races Formula 2, is a former top driver in long-distance racing. I hope to learn a lot from him next year.”
The World Endurance Championship racing year begins on the third weekend of March. The 1000 Miles of Sebring is scheduled for Friday, March 17. The legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans is the fourth event of 2023, this race will kick off on Saturday, June 10.