2010 Le Mans 24 Hours: Driver line-up no.15 Team Kolles Audi R10 TDI Christophe Bouchut (F) - Scott Tucker (USA) - Manu Rodriguez (F/P) Bouchut, Tucker, Rodriguez, an Audi for Le Mans! Thanks to the unstinting efforts of Christophe Bouchut,...
2010 Le Mans 24 Hours: Driver line-up no.15 Team Kolles Audi R10 TDI
Christophe Bouchut (F) - Scott Tucker (USA) - Manu Rodriguez (F/P)
Bouchut, Tucker, Rodriguez, an Audi for Le Mans!
Thanks to the unstinting efforts of Christophe Bouchut, the Kolles team will have a fine driver line-up for the 78th Le Mans 24 Hours in June. It consists of a former race winner and two gentlemen drivers in a prototype that has won the event three times on the trot!
Frenchman, Christophe Bouchut, the man behind the deal, who won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1993 on his debut, will be the team leader, and he tells us how he put it together: "2010 is my twenty-third season in motor sport, the thirtieth in fact if you include karts. So I know a lot of people in the milieu, in particular the team manager of the Kolles squad, Jackie Eckelaert, with whom I worked in Formula 3. This year, I'm racing in two American prototype series with Scott Tucker, and I discussed taking part in the Le Mans 24 Hours with him. I've been working on four projects, two in prototypes and two in GTs. The opportunity to race with Kolles was the most prestigious as we'll be driving a car that's part of the legend, because it was the first diesel-engined vehicle to win at Le Mans. This is what struck Scott. So I then looked after the negotiations and contracts with Colin Kolles, and I contacted Philippe Dumas (the HEXIS AMR team manager) to ask him if his driver Manu Rodriguez could be part of the team."
Bouchut will share the wheel of the no. 15 Audi R10 TDI with two drivers he knows well. He has driven with Scott Tucker in the Grand Am Series since last year, a collaboration that will be extended to the American Le Mans Series at the end of this week, as the Franco-American duo will be at the start of the Sebring 12 Hours in a Formula Le Mans. When Manu Rodriguez made his Le Mans 24 hours debut in 2009, Bouchut was one of his team-mates, and their JMB-entered Ferrari F430 GT finished eighth in the LM GT2 category. Manu is also a regular in the FIA GT3 European Championship in which he came fourth last year.
"On paper, the choice of an Audi seemed a little bit crazy given the limited experience of Scott and Manu in sports prototypes," said Bouchut. "I'm not going to ask them for out-and-out performance. The most important thing is for them to get to grips with the car in a relaxed frame of mind. My advice to them will deal with overtaking and traffic management. They'll have to be very careful in the braking zones as you catch the GTs very quickly. Our respective programmes won't allow us to take part in a preparation race, but we're going to organise some test sessions with the Kolles team to be ready for Le Mans."
Bouchut insists on the notion of balance, which has to prevail between the three team-mates. "In a project like this, the professional driver tends to run for much longer than the gentlemen drivers, but that's not how it's going to be with us. On the contrary, I think they'll be full members of the driver line-up, and they'll have to play their part in going for the result, just like me. We'll develop a relationship so that each one gets what he wants as well as, of course, the maximum amount of pleasure."
So what is the aim of the no. 15 Audi's driver line-up? Bouchut is confident that his team will be well placed at the end of the event: "A private LM P1 up against the works cars has no chance of winning, but it's obvious that this Audi will help us achieve a better result in the overall classification than any GT or LM P2. It's a superb car and I can't wait to get behind the wheel. It's technically a success and extremely reliable. I think that a top-ten finish is within our reach if we don't make any mistakes on the track."
Scott Tucker: "Christophe has done a fantastic job and I'm delighted that this project has come to fruition. I'm also very happy about making my Le Mans 24-Hours debut with him, as an extension of our common involvement in racing in the United States."
Manu Rodriguez: "It was really fantastic for me to have raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Christophe in 2009, and I'm honoured that he's asked me to drive with him again this year. It's a huge challenge for me, and as I got used to traffic with the GT2, I think I'll be able to avoid the traps thanks to Christophe's advice."
-source: future racing