(Miami) Lance Stroll is not the only Quebecer to hit the track at the Miami International Autodrome this weekend. There is also Thomas Nepveu, 18, driving his white and green Porsche. “I never really wanted to go to Formula 1, but being able to race with them is a good feeling,” said the young man.
A blazing sun darts Miami, Saturday noon. Thomas joins us under a large tent in the colors of the Porsche Carrera Cup, a championship in which he races under the colors of the Australian team McElrea Racing. In the background is the Hard Rock Stadium.
The young driver finished qualifying about 45 minutes early. “I finished seventh, it’s my best qualifier of the year,” he told us. I am really happy ! »
Nepveu has every reason to be happy so far this weekend. Accompanied by his parents and some of his partners, he experienced his first Formula 1 Grand Prix under the hot Florida sun, in the festive and colorful atmosphere specific to Miami.
“And everything is beautiful around, all the landscapes!” he exclaims with a smile. It is grand. It’s quite impressive. I try to enjoy the track time as much as possible. »
On Friday, he had the opportunity to walk down the pit lane and bump into the Formula 1 drivers. “Just being there and being able to experience all that stuff is really cool,” he hints.
Nepveu, who was introduced to karting at the age of 6 before gaining talent over the years, competed last year in the USF2000 development series, the first step towards his goal of one day racing in the IndyCar Series. . However, he had to change his plans this year.
“There are European drivers transferring to IndyCar; you have Romain Grosjean, some young people who raced in Formula 2 and who are not able to go to Formula 1, so they go there. It makes it more competitive. »
The Quebecer, who expresses himself with seriousness and maturity, therefore turned to the Porsche Carrera Cup and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, two North American championships.
“With a Porsche, the world can identify more. This is a car you see on the road every day. They see themselves more in this kind of race than in a single-seater. There is also more visibility, we hold big events. »
Nepveu admits he went through a “little grief” as he said goodbye to his goals of one day racing in IndyCar, but he soon moved on. “I’m not to complain on the weekend, it’s quite a car I drive! he throws. I think in racing, you have to take the opportunities that come your way. Unfortunately, there weren’t really any left for me in the world of single-seaters. »
“My goal in the next five years would be to get into GTD, GTD Pro,” he adds. I’m in no rush, I still have more to learn. »
Thomas Nepveu’s summer promises to be busy. With the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, he will perform in Canada and Quebec (Vallée-Jonction, Trois-Rivières and Mirabel), in front of family and partners, for the first time since 2018.
“I have partners who come to the big races, but not everyone can experience that. Being able to have people coming to Trois-Rivières, for example, will be cool. »
In total, therefore, the next few months boil down to nine weekends in a Porsche and 14 weekends in NASCAR. But for now, all his attention is in Miami. Difficult to look elsewhere, with all that is happening there.