Nicolas Lapierre is a racing driver from France who was successful in various motorsport disciplines. Most recently, he won LMP2 class at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2019, what was his fourth LMP2 class victory after he did the same in 2015, 2016 and 2018. In 2016 and 2019, he was also FIA WEC champion in the LMP2 class.
Earlier in a career, Lapierre was the A1 Grand Prix champion with Team France in 2006 and won the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix in 2003.
He was born on April 2, 1984, in Thonon-les-Baines, a small town in eastern France, near the Swiss border. He began his career in karting at the age of 9. Three years later he was 3rd in the French championship while in 1997 Lapierre was 6th in European Championship. In the following year, his last in karting, Nicolas qualified for the finals of European Junior Championship.
In 1999, Lapierre began racing in French Formula Renault but during three years he failed to impress. After his best result was the 8th place scored in 2001. At the same time, Nicolas appeared as a guest in the Formula Renault Eurocup but in 2002 he raced full-time with Graff Racing and did a fine job. Lapierre finished 3rd in the standings.
Formula 3 Euroseries and GP2 Series days
Talented driver progressed to the French Formula 3 in 2003. He was driving for Signature Plus team and finished 11th in the final standings. He stayed with the team in the same competition in 2004 nad did much better. Frenchman won 3 out of 20 races and had four more podiums before finishing 3rd overall, behind Jamie Green and Alexandre Premat.
That result allowed him to progress to the GP2 Series with the renowned Arden International team. However, the season of 2005 was far from perfect. Lapierre earned just 21 points out of 23 races before finishing 12th overall. The following season was slightly better. Nicolas stayed in the series with the same team, scored 32 points and finished 9th in the standings.
For the 2007 campaign, French driver moved to the DAMS team and finally managed to win the race. The maiden victory was scored in Bahrain while later in the season he also won the race at Spa. Interestingly, Nicolas picked points only once more that year so he finished 12th in the Drivers’ Championship.
A1 Grand Prix series champion
In parallel with his GP2 Series duties, Lapierre also raced in the A1 Grand Prix Series and did above all expectations. Driving alongside Alexandre Premat for A1 Team France, he won 6 out of 10 races during the 2005/2006 season and helped his team to win the championship title.
In the following season, Lapierre tried to help France to defend the title. He drove the first half of the A1 GP season and scored four podiums before being replaced with Loic Duval. Team France finished 4th in 2006/2007. Nico for the last time raced in A1 GP in 2007/2008 but it was in only one round
Switch to endurance racing
From 2008, Lapierre primarily focused on endurance racing. A year earlier he debuted at Le Mans 24 Hours, driving for Team Oreca alongside Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari. They finished 16th overall and 9th in the LMP2 class.
With the same team, French driver raced in the 2008 Le Mans Series LMP1 class but without too much success. In the following year, Nicolas finished 5th at Le Mans, this time driving alongside Ayari and Olivier Panis. Lapierre and Panis were accompanied by Loic Duval for 2010 race at Circuit de la Sarthe but they retired at the very late stage. The same driver line-up of Peugeot 908 Hdi FAP stayed in 2011 and finished 5th overall.
Racing with Toyota in the FIA WEC
After four years with Team Oreca, Lapierre in 2012 signed with Toyota Racing to race full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship. It was a very good season for the French driver who drove alongside Alex Wurz and, in the selected rounds, Kazuki Nakajima. Even after missing the two opening rounds and after retirement from Le Mans 24h, they finished 3rd in the championship with three race wins.
In the following year, Lapierre and Wurz dropped to the 4th position with one race win what again was fine result considering the fact they missed two races and has the same number of retirements.
Lapierre was teamed with Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson in the year when Toyota Racing rightfully was considered as a favorite. Finally, the team won the title but Nicolas did not have much reason to celebrate. French pilot and his co-drivers won the races at Spa and Silverstone, later finished 3rd at Le Mans and Circuit of the Americas and were on the way to winning the Drivers’ Championship title.
Before the race at Fuji Speedway, Lapierre was dropped from the team. Toyota stated that a driver will miss rest of the season due to personal reasons but there were a lot of suggestions that there was an altercation between Nicolas and one member of Toyota management team. However, he missed an opportunity of winning the biggest trophy in his career so far.
Move to WEC LMP2 class and short spell in the FIA WTCC
At the same time, French driver debuted in the FIA World Touring Cars Championship with the Lada Sport team. He replaced Jaap van Lagen for the last four rounds and managed to score points on four occasions.
World champion and Le Mans winner in 2016
Finally, in 2016 Lapierre raced full-time in the FIA WEC LMP2 class with Signatech Alpine. It was a very good year for the French driver who became a champion alongside Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi. They scored four race wins, including Le Mans 24h, and had other three podiums before taking the championship title.
Nicolas continued to drive for Signatech in LMP2 class in 2017 but also joined Toyota LMP1 team in two FIA WEC rounds, including Le Mans, where he recorded DNF. He was also a part of Dragospeed European Le Mans Series campaign.
World champion and two-time Le Mans winner in the FIA WEC super season
Lapierre stayed with Signatech Alpine Matmut team in the 2018-2019 FIA WEC super season, that includes two Le Mans races. In June 2018, he won at Circuit de La Sarthe for the third time in LMP2 class, sharing the #36 Alpine A470 with Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet.
In 2018, he also raced with DragonSpeed in the European Le Mans Series but also joined Tequila Patron ESM in some endurance races of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The highlight was an overall victory at Sebring 12 Hours, together with Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek.
After four podiums and one victory in five FIA WEC rounds in 2018, Lapierre continued his good campaign with Signatech in 2019, scoring podiums at Sebring 1000 Miles and Spa 6 Hours, and then winning LMP2 class at Le Mans again in the #36 car. With eight podiums in eight races, including two victories at Le Mans, Lapiere became 2019 FIA WEC LMP2 champion.