Former Red Bull Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat will make a switch to the World Endurance Championship after all, having landed a seat with single-seater giant Prema in the LMP2 class.
The 28-year-old Russian, off the F1 grid since he was dropped by AlphaTauri at the end of 2020, was slated to run last year’s WEC schedule with Russian outfit G-Drive – but that whole programme was withdrawn amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and team boss/driver Roman Rusinov’s public disagreement with the restrictions and conditions outlined by the FIA as requirements for participation for Russian and Belarussian competitors.
Kvyat was likewise publicly opposed to the document, and instead focused on his NASCAR exploits in 2022 – starting three races its primary Cup Series and one in the second-tier Xfinity Series – but will now make his WEC bow.
“The team is very notorious for previous success, and it’s now looking to conquer the world of endurance racing as well,” said Kvyat of Prema.
“I’m very excited to be part of it and very motivated to give my absolute best to try put ourselves in the top positions.”
Kvyat never drove for Prema during his junior career but did battle against its drivers in the likes of European Formula 3 and two-litre Formula Renault.
Prema’s sole entry in the 2022 WEC season – featuring Robert Kubica and backed by Orlen, the Polish oil company that just switched from being Alfa Romeo’s F1 title sponsor to backing rival team AlphaTauri – finished fifth in the LMP2 class and grabbed a class podium at Le Mans.
Kvyat will be partnered in Prema’s #63 car – an Oreca 07, as is the case for its #9 entry as well – by Ferrari Challenge Europe champion Doriane Pin and Lamborghini works driver Mirko Bortolotti.
The other car will be driven by Filip Ugran and Bent Viscaal full-time, with Juan Manuel Correa and Andrea Caldarelli set to rotate as the third driver.
Caldarelli, like Bortolotti, is a Lamborghini works driver, their participation serving as preparation for both being drivers for the Italian brand’s new LMDh programme in 2024.
Likewise, someone like Kvyat can presumably target a longer-term future among the Hypercar/LMDh line-ups.
Kvyat’s compatriot Nikita Mazepin, who lost his Haas F1 seat when Russia invaded Ukraine, has also found himself in LMP2.
Mazepin, who took a class win in the Russia-based 2022 edition of the off-road marathon Silk Way Rally, will drive for 99 Racing in the two-round Asian Le Mans Series alongside Felix Porteiro.
Mazepin’s former F3 team-mate Ben Barnicoat had been announced as part of the line-up, but Barnicoat said on Wednesday afternoon that a clash with his existing commitments meant he would not be part of it.