- February 28, 1973
- Imsa Sportscar Championship
- Era Motorsport
Nicolas Minassian is a French racing driver who achieved the most in sports car racing. He was a member of Peugeot factory team in their golden age of endurance racing, scoring two overall podiums at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2008 and 2011.
In open-wheel racing, Minassian reached a peak by finishing second in the International Formula 3000 Championship in 2000. He never got a chance to race in Formula One but he spent a part of the season in the CART Championship Series.
Formula Renault and Formula 3 vice-champion early in a career
After spending some time in karting competitions as a teenager, Nicolas Minassian made a debut in car racing in 1992 in the Renault Clio Cup France. In 1993, he raced in the French Formula Renault and became a vice-champion, finishing second behind David Dussau.
That success propelled Minassian into Formula 3. He was a vice-champion two times in Formula 3 competitions, first in the French F3 Championship in 1995 and then in the British F3 Championship in 1997, losing titles to Laurent Redon and Jonny Kane.
Formula 3000 debut in 1998, vice-champion in 2000
In 1998, Minassian made a step further into the International Formula 3000 Championship, driving for West Competition/McLaren Junior Team. He was without wins or podiums in his first F3000 season, scoring his maiden win at Silverstone in 1999. That year, he was driving for Kid Jensen Racing and finished sixth in the points.
Minassian was the race winner three times in the 2000 International F3000 Championship, driving the #3 car for D2 Playlife Super Nova team. He finished second in the final standings, losing a title by three points to Bruno Junqueira.
Six starts in the CART Championship Series
The F3000 championship was just a step under the Formula 1. Unable to find a seat in some F1 team, he decided to continue a career in North America, joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the CART FedEx Championship Series. His teammate was Bruno Junqueira.
Driving the #12 Lola-Toyota, Minassian scored his best result at Long Beach Grand Prix, finishing in the eighth place. Outside CART championship, he participated at Indianapolis 500, retiring with broken gearbox after 74 laps. After seven rounds, Chip Ganassi Racing replaced Minassian with Memo Gidley.
ASCAR stock car champion in 2002
In 2002, Minassian tried something completely different and he scored. Driving for Ray Mallock Limited (RML) in the UK-based ASCAR stock car series, he became a champion. He was driving the #8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, winning just once but it was enough for the title.
In 2002, Minassian also recorded his third start at Le Mans 24 Hours. Previously, he competed at Le Mans with Roland Bassaler's Alpa LM-Cosworth in 1994 and Mopar Team Oreca's Reynard 2KQ in 2000, not finishing both races.
In 2002, he was a part of Playstation Team Oreca's crew in the #14 Dallara SP1-Judd, together with Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny. They finished in the sixth place. Before Le Mans, Minassian won a race at Estoril in a Dallara SP1, sharing a car with Olivier Beretta.
The first visit to Australia in 2003
In 2003, Minassian had no full-time arrangement in any of racing series, recording a couple of races with Pescarolo Sport and visiting Australia to participate in endurance races of the V8 Supercars Championship. Minassian was driving Courage C60-Peugeot for Pescarolo Sport at Le Mans 24h (9th) and at Oschersleben's round of the FIA Sportscar Championship (DNF).
In Australia, he was driving the #45 Holden Commodore for Team Dynamik as a co-driver to Wayne Wakefield at Sandown 500 (28th) and co-driver to Jan Magnussen at Bathurst 1000 (11th).
Three seasons with Creation Autosportif
In 2004, Minassian joined British team Creation Autosportif to drive their DBA 03S-Zytek LMP1 prototype in the Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series. He scored two LMS podiums at Nurburgring and Spa, finishing fourth in the points. His co-driver was Jamie Campbell-Walter. At 2004 Le Mans 24h, Minassian rejoined Pescarolo Sport in the #17 Pescarolo C60-Judd, not finishing the race.
Minassian stayed with Creation Autosportif in 2005, scoring three LMS podiums to finish fifth in the points. He was also driving for Creation at Le Mans 24h, finishing 14th together with Jamie Campbell-Walter.
In 2006, his third season with Creation, Minassian scored just one LMS podium but also one podium in the USA, finishing third at Petit Le Mans. At Le Mans 24 Hours, he was a member of Pescarolo Sport crew again, scoring his best result to date - fifth place overall.
Joining Team Peugeot Total in 2007
In 2007, Minassian joined Peugeot factory team to participate in a diesel revolution with Peugeot 908 HDI LMP1 prototype. He won his first race in a new car, the Monza 1000 Kilometers, sharing the #7 car with Marc Gene. Later in the season, he scored two more Le Mans Series wins to finish fourth in the points.
At 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours, Minassian and his co-drivers in the #7 Peugeot (Marc Gene and Jacques Villeneuve) retired after 338 laps.
Two Le Mans podiums in a Peugeot 908
Next year, the same crew (Minassian/Gene/Villeneuve) reached a finish line at Circuit de la Sarthe in the #7 Peugeot 908 HDI, finishing the race in the second place behind #2 Audi R10 TDI. In the 2008 Le Mans Series, Minassian was a race winner two times, finishing a season as a vice-champion.
Minassian stayed for three more seasons with Team Peugeot Total, participating in selected LMS and ALMS races. He won at Spa in 2009 and at Silverstone in 2010. At Circuit de la Sarthe, he was sixth in 2009, retired in 2010 and reached a podium in 2011. Sharing the #8 Peugeot 908 with Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny, he finished in the third place.
2012 – driving prototypes for four different teams
In 2012, Minassian spent a season in revived FIA World Endurance Championship with several teams, driving a Dome LMP1 prototype for Pescarolo Team and two different LMP2 prototypes for Jota and Pecom Racing. He also joined Sebastien Loeb Racing to drive Oreca LMP2 prototype in some rounds of the European Le Mans Series.
In 2012, Minassian also travelled to Australia, nine years after his V8 Supercars debut. This time, he joined Brad Jones Racing to drive the #14 Holden Commodore at Gold Coast 600 at Surfers Paradise, sharing a car with Fabian Coulthard. They retired in the first race and finished 10th in the second race.
2013 - full season with Pecom Racing
In 2013, Minassian rejoined Pecom Racing in the FIA WEC but, this time, he spent a full season with the team. He was driving the #49 Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 prototype, sharing a car with Luis Perez-Companc and Pierre Kaffer.
They were class winners at Spa and finished fourth at Le Mans 24 Hours. Minassian ended a season fourth in a classification of LMP2 drivers.
Racing with SMP Racing from 2014 to 2016
In 2014, Minassian joined the Russian team SMP Racing, spending the next three seasons with the team. He finished fifth in FIA WEC LMP2 classification. At Le Mans, he didn't finish the race in which he was sharing the #37 Oreca-Nissan with Maurizio Mediani and Kirill Ladygin.
The next Le Mans attempt in 2015 was more successful. He finished 6th in LMP2 class, sharing the #27 BR01-Nissan with Mediani and David Markozov. In 2015, Minassian also spent a season in the European Le Mans Series with Russian team but without notable results.
In 2016, Minassian was again the full-time driver for SMP Racing in the FIA WEC, scoring no wins or podiums in LMP2 class. He also made starts at Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours, finishing fourth at Sebring with DragonSpeed team. At 2016 Le Mans race, Minassian and his co-drivers finished 7th in LMP2 class.
Part-time schedule in 2017, retirement in 2018
In 2017, Minassian raced on a part-time basis in different competitions, driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 for IDEC Sport in the 24H Series, Oreca 07-Gibson for G-Drive Racing in the European Le Mans Series or Ferrari 488 GT3 for Spirit of Race at Spa 24 Hours. He scored Pro-Am class podium at Spa 24 Hours and two ELMS podiums with championship-winning duo Memo Rojas/Leo Roussel. He was also serving as a sporting director of the DragonSpeed team.
In 2018, he reduced his racing programme to just one race in the European Le Mans Series with IDEC Sport, pulling out from racing as a driver after that.
Photos: Nic Minassian, Mark Thompson, motorsport.com,