Lewis Williamson was one of the new faces in the FIA World Endurance Championship paddock last weekend at the Nürburgring. The 26-year-old Scot put in an impressive debut, running consistently well in the #42 Strakka Racing Gibson 0155S alongside Johnny Kane and Nick Leventis. In fact, Strakka only missed out on a podium finish by 0.071 of a second behind the #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports car. WEC-Magazin spoke to Williamson on his path into endurance racing and his hopes for the future.
Like many of his contemporaries, Williamson began his racing career in the lower formulae in the UK and Europe – including British Formula Renault and GP3. This opened the door to the Red Bull Athlete programme and F1 simulator work in 2012. Lacking the budget to pursue further single-seater options – like so many young drivers – Williamson was forced to put his career on ice: “I had some involvement with driver coaching at Strakka and various other formulae such as Formula Ford or GP3, but I was back to doing my normal job as a fabricator and welder on oil rigs,” Williamson told WEC-Magazin.
But the young Scot’s talent wasn’t to be lost to the sport, after Williamson quit his day job in April 2015 to focus on finding drives elsewhere. And it paid off, too, with Strakka Racing opting to put the 26-year-old in the driving seat for the Six Hours of the Nürburgring last weekend. “Now, after getting this opportunity, it is down to me to back it up through my performance,” he continued. “If we have a solid weekend as a good platform to build on then I’ll be happy with that.”
Williamson sees the chance to race in the WEC with Strakka as a big opportunity, but is aware of the challenges that come from moving across from single seaters: “The World Endurance Championship is racing at a high level, it’s the pinnacle of endurance racing. Single seaters are not that dissimilar from LMP2s – they’re fast and they have a lot of downforce. But there are a lot more things to take into account in the cockpit that a driver needs to do.”
Looking ahead, the young Scot appears to have impressed his team, with Strakka Racing naming Williamson as one of their drivers at the next round in Mexico City. Well aware that racing without a significant private backing like many of the young drivers in F1 and GP2 is a near impossibility, Williamson is aware of what he has to do to progress in the world of endurance racing: “I’ve got goals in my head that I want to achieve, but the only thing you can do is given 110% off the track and away from the circuit – be it simulator-related or working with the team, fitness-wise. When you come to the circuit, either you are beaten fair and square or you come out on top – but I am always looking to learn and move forward. I want to be racing until I am unable or unfit to do so, and as long as I am giving my all, I am happy.”
Images (c) WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff)