DEVLIN AND JEANNETTE: A RADICAL PAIRING
It's about time Ben Devlin and Gunnar Jeannette have teamed up. The young sports car talents have known each other for the better part of a decade but finally see themselves in the same car this weekend at Le Mans in the Team Bruichladdich Radical SR9-AER LMP2 entry with Marc Rostan.
This is the first Le Mans for Devlin but seventh for Jeannette, both 26 years old. Their Radical will start 30th overall and 10th in class.
"It's always a tough thing getting the last-minute call," said Jeannette, who didn't learn about his race entry until about a week ago. "But it's a good car and a good team. And it's good to finally drive with Ben."
Jeannette drives a Ferrari F430 GT in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class for Corsa Motorsports. He first raced at Le Mans in 2000 and became the youngest driver to finish a race at age 18. He has raced in three separate classes at the 24 Hours, and Radical will be his fourth manufacturer.
"LMP2 has shown that it can be a race of attrition," Jeannette said. "But Le Mans also is one of those races that has shown that it can be an all-out sprint. We're not on the pace of the Porsches or the top-flight runners but I think we'll be OK."
Devlin is a two-time winner in the American Le Mans Series and a familiar face to those at Radical, having competed in the Radical SR3 championship in England and he debuted the SR9 for van der Steur Racing at Petit Le Mans in 2006.
Needless to say, his first laps at Le Mans were everything Devlin had hoped.
"It's awesome - a really good atmosphere," said Devlin, who drives B-K Motorsports' Mazda-powered Lola in the US. "It was very daunting driving down a very dark country road with headlights that weren't so great. But it was a real pleasure to do it. You really have no idea how fast it is. When you see it on TV it's much wider but on the track it's much more narrower with a lot less runoff. This is one of the biggest achievements of my career. It's of course a lot longer race than anything we ever do."
The 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans runs from 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time) Saturday, June 14 to 9 a.m. ET Sunday, June 15 from the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Forty-four drivers will represent the American Le Mans Series, whose teams have captured seven overall victories and 22 class championships since 1999. SPEED will televise the event live, and Radio Le Mans will have flag-to-flag coverage of the race as well as practice and qualifying on June 11 and 12.