For part two of our interview with Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo in his team workshop, we look at his hopes for the future both on a sporting and personal level.
Laurent Mercier: The new rules promised by the ACO and the FIA make you confident about the future?
Henri Pescarolo: “There is currently a willingness and promise to bring back private LMP1 entries. For seven years, the previous ACO direction kept feeding us talk of equality that never happened even though everyone could see what was happening between diesel and petrol engines. As an aside, a Peugeot engineer once asked me to congratulate my technical team because our calculations between the two (diesel and petrol) were correct. At the end of 2008, we had 640 hp with 3% larger restrictors while Peugeot were making 800 hp. In the past, we were able to reach three podiums against Audi, which is something. Suddenly, we were relegated to 10 seconds off the pace with an identical budget to the competition. At the time, I was the only one to say anything.”
Diesel’s evolution was unpredictable and uncontrollable.
So as a result, it was more difficult to gather sponsorship and partners for a concrete project?
“More difficult? You could even say it made them flee. We had no role to play in the race, so what interest would they have to continue to support us? Playstation went to Peugeot and the others pulled out. I partnered with people to whom I somewhat gave a part of the team to. We weren’t the only ones to be sacrificed. You can look at ORECA and Zytek. I sincerely think that two or three seconds per lap would have been reasonable. You must remember that we were an integral part of the race. For us, it’s our life and they condemned us to doing formation laps. Since I’m not one to give up very easily, we continued and it got worse and worse. Diesel’s evolution was unpredictable and uncontrollable.”
Currently, many private LMP1 constructors are making new announcements. Are things back on track?
If in 2014, private teams will be given the chance to fight for the success that has been enjoyed by those at the front, then the answer is yes. The litmus test is the acceleration on the Le Mans front straight, without traction control, with equal weight and over a distance of 400m. That’s were you can truly see power of the engine. I’m not in favor of a Balance of Performance solution because that hinders the engineers. With our petrol car, we have a difficult time passing LMP2 cars on the straights. There is a hint of hope since the ACO and the FIA are pushing for a good balance. The two technologies can be joined closer together. I believe that there are good cars at ORECA, Dome and Lotus. We must find the right balance so that they can compete honorably. And that’s what will allow us to find sponsorship. Who else lives solely on sponsorship apart from Signatech? I was one of the ‘last of the mohicans’ when it comes to living from sponsorship only. At the time, it was doable, but no more. Le Mans remains the most popular race in the world and there’s this entire World Endurance Championship that everyone was waiting for, me included…”
Translated by Rainier Ehrhardt / Source: Laurent Mercier - Endurance-Info.com