Confidence is high within the Veloqx Prodrive Racing team as final preparations are made for departure to France for the 71st running of the most famous sportscar race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, on 14th/15th June. The team,...
Confidence is high within the Veloqx Prodrive Racing team as final preparations are made for departure to France for the 71st running of the most famous sportscar race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, on 14th/15th June.
The team, which is entering two Care Racing supported Ferrari 550 Maranellos, is going with just one aim in mind - victory in the GTS class. An early indication of performance was given at the official test day in May when the two Veloqx Prodrive cars topped the GTS time sheets throughout the entire eight hours of testing.
Just one Ferrari 550 was run in last year's event by the team, and it was holding a commanding lead in the GTS category when an oil line ruptured and the subsequent fire brought all hopes of victory to a premature end. Since that time a great deal of racing and testing has taken place, with particular emphasis being paid to endurance and reliability. The Prodrive- built Ferraris are now, Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell believes, as well prepared as they can possibly be.
"The car has already shown this year it's in good shape and got the necessary pace. We don't quite know what our main competitors, the Corvettes, will turn up with in June but that will become clear over the qualifying days. However, I think we're going to be okay and comfortably on the pace. It's going to be a question of running as cleanly as possible, but probably relatively quickly the whole time. You tend to think that because it's a 24 hour race you can run at a lower speed than usual but the level of competition is now at such a level that it's more like a 24 hour sprint race! I'm confident we've got a good package and we know the competition will keep us sharp - the rest is down to us."
The 'right' package includes the Prodrive-developed 6-litre V12 engine, which has been run problem-free for over 5000 kilometres, a good aerodynamic set up, race-proven Michelin tyres, and an all-star driver line up which includes a mix of experience, youth and international racing success.
Car 80 will be driven by the all-British crew of Kelvin Burt, Anthony Davidson and Darren Turner. Although the three have enjoyed success at the highest level in other formulae and, indeed, Davidson and Turner are current F1 test drivers, they are all making their 24 Hour debut.
Kelvin Burt: "I'm optimistic about the week ahead and think the pace is definitely there. We are three drivers, equally matched, and we know the car is fast and the Michelin tyres are good. We need to have a problem free race, with no one making a mistake, nothing breaking on the car and problem free pit stops and we'll be in with a good shout. Le Mans is the biggest sportscar race in the world and it's nice to go into it in a potential class-winning car. It would be fantastic to win it first time out. As a driver, you don't tend to focus on the huge crowds and the size of the overall event, but I'm sure the drivers' parade in the town centre and the crowd on race day will bring it home to me."
Anthony Davidson: "I'm the only one out of all of us who is not racing full time, something I'm missing a lot, so getting the chance to do any race is good and the chance to do this is a great bonus. It's one of most recognised races in the world, and a nice one to have on your CV which makes it even more worthwhile and fun doing it. I don't really have a true idea of what it's going to be like going into it, although I know it has a huge history. I think, though, drivers have to approach it as just another race. We've got the team and team mates capable of winning [GTS] and we are all massively looking forward to it. It's going to be good fun and very competitive."
Darren Turner: "Going to Le Mans for the first time is a special part of my career. It's an event I've always wanted to do, and I've looked forward to having this opportunity. Going there with a good chance of winning our class first time out will be very special. We've got a great car and a good team of people. Now it's down to us and a bit of luck."
The second Ferrari 550 Maranello, car 88, will be driven by a more experienced Le Mans crew who have 8 starts between them, and who bring international race winning experience from single seaters and touring cars to the line up.
Jamie Davies: "The Ferrari 550 is a proven car and was incredibly quick at Le Mans last year. The test we did at Paul Ricard proved its reliability, and it was also fast on the official Le Mans test day so everything's looking good at the moment. We've got good Michelin tyres and they've got a lot of experience with the circuit so all in all the package is right. Even if our driving styles are a bit different, I get on really well with my team mates, we work well together and have some fun out of the car too so that's good for team spirit."
Tomas Enge: "I'm feeling very confident as I think the car is great as usual and very fast as we showed at the test day. I am very confident of our speed, and I have very good team mates, as I did last year. I think all of us, including our sister car, can do a very good job for the Veloqx Prodrive team. The only question mark in a 24 hour race is reliability which I'm sure has been sorted out since last year. I want to go there, do the fastest lap for qualifying and finish the race on the top of the podium for our class."
Peter Kox: I'm really delighted to be going with the Veloqx Prodrive team. I've been with the Ferrari 550 programme from the beginning and, although I didn't do Le Mans with them last year, I am really happy to be there this year. I feel the team is at a very good level with the car, and it's really reliable. Obviously you never know what will happen but we had a successful test at Paul Ricard and I'm very comfortable with my team mates. It's a very long race, and small things can go wrong, but considering all the factors, if we are quick and sensible we stand a good chance of victory."
The race on the 14th/15th June will be seen by approximately 225,000 spectators, 217 million TV viewers worldwide, and reported on by 2,300 journalists from over 38 nations. For regular updates and information on the Veloqx Prodrive Racing team's quest for success, go to www.veloqxprodrive.com