A lap of Paul Ricard with Harold Primat

As the Aston Martin Racing Team prepare for the 8 Heures du Castellet which gets underway at 11:00 CET on Sunday 11 April 2010, driver Harold Primat (CH) talks through a lap of the High Tech Test Track at Paul Ricard: "You accelerate up the pit...

As the Aston Martin Racing Team prepare for the 8 Heures du Castellet which gets underway at 11:00 CET on Sunday 11 April 2010, driver Harold Primat (CH) talks through a lap of the High Tech Test Track at Paul Ricard:

"You accelerate up the pit straight and then you're straight into hard braking and down to third gear for the left-right chicane called Verriere. You need to mind the kerbs and get on the power as early as you can while you exit the right-hander.

"After a short straight you brake deep into the corner for the next right-hander, which is followed by quite a long left. It's all rather tight in this part of the circuit, but it's about to get a lot tighter as then you're into the first hairpin, which we take in first gear.

"It's a quick trip up to through the gears, exiting in second or third, because then we go to what is one of the most crucial corners of the track: l'Ecole. You need a good drive off there in order to launch yourself onto the Mistral straight: I normally short shift to fourth heading into this corner in order to have good stability as I accelerate out of it.

"So we're onto the legendary Mistral straight where, depending on our set-up, we'll be hitting a top speed of somewhere between 300 and 320 kph. That's actually a bit slower than the speeds we will reach on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, but it's the closest we come to it.

"At the end of the straight, we come to Signes: my favourite part of the circuit but a place where you have to be incredibly careful. We keep it in sixth, but lift at the end of the straight before putting the power back on again, to really drive the car round the corner. You need to ensure that your car is as stable as possible round here, as if you bottom out too much that can be enough to make you go off.

"Following a short straight you brake hard into the double Beausset right-hander, which you take in fourth gear. This is a big stop, as you've been in sixth for so long at this point, and it's also a very tricky corner as it tightens all the way, forcing you to apply more and more steering lock. You can really feel the G-forces at work and it helps to have some padding on the left side of your headrest!

"After the Beausset corner there is quite a technical section of track where you really have to get the car to flow properly. Coming out of the Bendor corner it's fine to use a bit of the kerb, you sweep through a long right-hander in fourth gear, and then it's down to third or second for La Tour.

"Finally, we have the Virage du Pont at the end of the lap: another tight hairpin that is extremely important as it sets you up for the start-finish straight. You have to approach the Virage du Pont as far to the left as possible, in order to open out the corner, but in our car it's very hard to see the apex because of the sidepods.

"Do all this exactly right for the next eight hours, and then you'll have some idea what the 8 Heures du Castellet will be like for us!"

-source: aston martin

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Harold Primat
Teams Aston Martin Racing