Gustavo Menezes is an American racing driver who currently competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the French Signatech Alpine team. In 2016, Menezes achieved his greatest result in a career, taking the FIA WEC LMP2 class championship title, together with Signatech teammates Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Richelmi. They scored four wins during the season, including a victory at 24 hours of Le Mans. Earlier in a career, Menezes competed in different single-seater championships but without notable results.
Gustavo started to race at the age 8
Gustavo Menezes was born on September 19, 1994, in Los Angeles. He started his racing career with go-karts at the age 8. In the next eight years, he was driving go-karts in different American and International competitions. He made his first steps with bigger racing machines in 2010, participating in a couple of races of the Pacific F2000 Championship.
Two winless seasons in the Pro Mazda Championship
Then, in 2011, he joined Juncos Racing to drive for the team in the Pro Mazda Championship. With one podium, he finished 8th in the points. On the other side of Atlantic, he participated in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and FR 2.0 Alps competition, not scoring podiums or wins. Menezes stayed one more season in the Pro Mazda Championship, driving for Team Pelfrey in 2012. Without podiums or wins, he finished 9th in the points.
Moving a career to Europe in 2013
In 2013, Gustavo moved his career to Europe, participating full season in the German Formula 3. He was driving #5 Dallara-Volkswagen for Van Amersfoort Racing. He won two races, at Eurospeedway Lausitz and Hockenheimring, finishing fourth in the final standings.
In October 2013, Menezes had the first experience in the sports car racing, joining RSR Racing at Petit Le Mans. His co-drivers in the #9 Oreca FLM 09 were Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende. They didn't finish the race, being classified 29th overall and 6th in the Prototype Challenge class.
Gustavo was driving for Carlin in the 2015 F3 season
Two seasons in the European Formula 3
In 2014, Menezes graduated to the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, still driving for Van Amersfoort Racing. In 33 races he managed to score only one pole position and two podiums, finishing 11th in the final standings. The next European F3 season was even less successful. He was driving for Carlin, finishing 13th in the points.
Two retirements at Daytona 24h
While participating in the European F3 championship, Menezes occasionally competed with RSR Racing in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. In January 2014, he debuted at 24 hours of Daytona, partnering Bruno Junqueira, Duncan Ende and David Heinemeier Hansson in the #90 Oreca FLM 09. They didn't finish the race.
Menezes returned to Daytona in January 2015, again with RSR Racing's Oreca. His co-drivers were Bruno Junqueira, Chris Cumming and Jack Hawksworth. The result was the same as the year before – DNF. Later in the season, he recorded two more retirements with the same car, at Sebring 12h and Petit Le Mans.
2016 FIA WEC LMP2 champions
LMP2 world endurance champion in 2016
Despite disappointing results in the sports car racing, Menezes completely switched his racing orientation in 2016, joining Signatech Alpine in the FIA World Endurance Championship. He partnered Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Richelmi in the #36 Alpine A460 LMP2 prototype.
In the season-opening race at Silverstone they finished 4th in class but after that, the #36 scored three consecutive victories (Spa, Le Mans, Nurburgring). In the second part of the season, Signatech's trio added three more podiums and a victory (Circuit of the America) on their account, dominantly taking the world championship title.
World champion and Le Mans winner at the age 22
Class victory at Le Mans 24 hours
One of four wins in the 2016 FIA WEC season was at Le Mans. The #36 car was the third-fastest in the qualifying. During the race, Signatech's crew mostly battled against #26 G-Drive Racing's Oreca, finishing the race in the same lap. After 357 laps around Circuit de la Sarthe, Gustavo Menezes scored Le Mans victory in his debut at the world's greatest endurance race.
Third in the Asian Le Mans Series, one more DNF at Daytona
Between the seasons 2016 and 2017, Menezes participated in the Asian Le Mans Series with Jackie Chan DC Racing, sharing the #35 Oreca 03R with Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent. They won two races (Zhuhai and Buriram), finishing third in the final standings.
In January 2017, Menezes participated at Rolex 24 at Daytona for the third time, recording third consecutive retirement. This time, he was driving Lexus RC F GT3 for 3GT Racing. The race didn't last long, the crew retired after 52 laps after an accident.
In 2017, Menezes stayed with Signatech Alpine
2017 FIA WEC season with Signatech Alpine
For the 2017 FIA WEC season, Menezes prolonged a contract with Signatech Racing. His car would be the #36 Alpine A470. He will try to defend his LMP2 championship title together with Nicolas Lapierre. Other announced drivers were Matt Rao and Romain Dumas.