Born in 1992 in Illinois, Cooper MacNeil's first racing competition was the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in a BMW M3 E46 V8. That was 2009. In 2013, he will take part in his first Le Mans 24 Hours.
After making his debut in the 24 Hours of Daytona at the young age of 19, Cooper MacNeil continued his rise through sportscar racing in the American Le Mans Series in 2012, helping to give Alex Job Racing the GTC class championship driving a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. This year, the Hinsdale, Illinois native continues in the ALMS, still with Alex Job and the WeatherTech colors, playing an instrumental part in the team's victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring this past March.
Before heading to Lime Rock in July for the continuation of his ALMS season, the young driver will head to France to take part in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans with Larbre Compétition in a Corvette C6.R he will share with Frenchmen Philippe Dumas and Manu Rodrigues.
It will be an American driving in a French race in an American car with a French team. That should strengthen French-American relations...
Cooper MacNeil recently tested the car at the Val de Vienne circuit in France to discover the car and get work done ahead of the grueling race in June.
Laurent Mercier: Cooper, what did you take away from this first time driving the Corvette?
"Everything went well. It was my first time driving the car and I had to contend with a wet, then drying track. It was actually good, because we could encounter those same conditions at Le Mans in a few weeks. I took no risks on track because I didn't know the track or the car. I came to grips with the car during the day and I'm satisfied with the test. The car is easy to get used to and I think it fits well for a 24 hour race. The mechanics of it are perfect. It's true that the Corvette is totally different from the Porsche I drive in the ALMS. Jack (Leconte) told me if a driver is fast in a Porsche, then he is fast in any other car (laughs)."
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a dream come true for you?
"I've always watched the race on television and now I'll actually be part of such a legendary event. It's awesome to be racing there at only 20 years of age. I still have many years ahead of me. There are so many famous drivers who have competed at Le Mans. Even Steve McQueen took the start."
What is your objective?
"With Manu and Philippe, we have a driving squad that could race for a podium finish. A win would be fantastic, but we know that anything can happen in such an unpredictable race. It will be special for me, because I'll be racing in an American GT car at Le Mans. I've been learning the track with a simulator and by watching videos. The track is quick, but not especially difficult to learn. It's far from Laguna Seca and the corkscrew (laughs)."
It will be special for me, because I'll be racing in an American GT car at Le Mans.
How is your ALMS season going so far?
"We won the GTC class at Sebring before finishing fourth at Long Beach and third at Laguna Seca. We're currently second in the championship. The competition level is even higher than last year. Each car in the category could take the win and in each driving squad there's a top driver."
Do you have plans for 2014 yet?
"As everyone knows, the ALMS and Grand-Am will be uniting in 2014 to give way to a new championship. I'm planning on being part of it. I started in the ALMS last season and I've very happy to be part of the series. I'm hoping to drive a Porsche 911 RSR, still with Alex Job Racing. It's still too early to say much more, but I must admit that I wouldn't mind that at all."
Translation by Rainier Ehrhardt
Source: Laurent Mercier/Endurance-Info.com