In the top five in LMP2, Sébastien Loeb, Nicolas Marroc and Jean-Karl Vernay definitely hit their objectives in the No.19.
Not only a preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans invitees, today’s Test Day was also for teams not participating in the 2012 edition, allowing them to see how they mesure up against the competition on the famous race track. Sébastien Loeb Racing, also entered in the European Le Mans Series, seized the opportunity to make its first appearance at the temple of endurance racing.
Alongside regular ‘house’ Nicolas Marroc (ELMS) and Jean Karl Vernay (Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup), team boss/driver Sébastien Loeb especially enjoyed the exercise, signing the fifth fastest LMP2 time (18th overall) at the controls of the ORECA 03. It’s a remarkable performance, taking into account the level of competition, as well as the atypical conditions and the youth of the team.This richly informative test only whet the Alsacian team’s thirst for a return to line up at the start of the 2013 edition.
Sébastien Loeb : "A day of real work… "
Making his return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans track after six years of absence, Sébastien Loeb slide into the seat of the Sébastien Loeb Racing ORECA 03 with joy. The eight-time World Rally Champion quickly got back up to speed.
"Initially, it’s not easy to get back into a prototype when you don’t regularly drive in the discipline" he said. "I completed one test session at Magny Cours at the beginning of the week and those were my first laps in an LMP2. I hadn’t run at Le Mans since 2006. It’s a bizarre sensation at the wheel…The apexes, I see them after I pass them! I had a bit of a rough time this morning but the good feelings returned and it’s really nice. Our goal was to go slowly, progressively, without taking big risks, while trying to improve the setup and especially gain confidence with the car. The results are good, it’s a success!"
For Team Manager, Dominique Heintz, this first experience in La Sarthe, closes with a sense of satisfaction. "The emotions were high this morning at the start of the test day. Six months ago, this team didn’t exist. I think the greatest performance of this team is to be here! Not everything is perfect, and we know that, which is why we wanted to take part. This gives us an idea of the pressures of such an event and it offered us a true day of evaluation. We came here to prepare for the future. Whatever happens, we are leaving on a good note. We have a big puzzle to put together, with quite a few pieces, and so far everything fits nicely. The team works well together, without pressure. Nicolas and Jean Karl gave us their respective experiences because the objective above all is to learn and progress."
In the long term, Sébastien Loeb Racing has ambitions to participate in the legendary twice around the clock race, but here again, there is no rush and a lot of lucidity as Dominique Heintz confirms, "Taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible is of course our goal, but we look to Sébastien. Our presence here today gets us closer to the race but that doesn’t mean we will be there in 2013. Even if it’s our biggest desire, a project of this magnitude needs preparation and most importantly partners. The next few months will be telling."
Next up, Sébastien Loeb Racing goes to the Val de Vienne circuit June 23 and 24 for the third round of the GT Tour. With four cars entered in the Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup and one in the FFSA French GT Championship, the schedule will be busy…