Xavier Maassen'S FIRST OUTING AT 24 HOURS LE MANS earns him a second place
LE MANS. Clinching a podium in your first outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the hardest endurance race in the world is not given to many drivers, but Xavier Maassen has managed to do it. In the Corvette C6.R of the French Luc Alphand Aventures team he drove together with Julien Jousse and Yann Clairay into second place in the LM GT1 class, following a trouble free race. Just after three o'clock Xavier Maassen went over to the legendary Le Mans podium, where in front of the international media he was able to voice his absolute joy: "What a debut...!!"
Wednesday 10th June: pre-qualifying & Thursday 11th June: qualifying sessions
On Thursday for the first time in his career Xavier Maassen qualified for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During two whole days he was able to become acquainted with this mythical circuit during the free practice and qualifying sessions. "It's a circuit just like any other, but somewhat longer", he joked during an interview with the world renowned reporters of Radio Le Mans.
Later on in the evening he looked back on the two days of hard work: "On Thursday we concentrated mainly on the car's set-up to ensure we had a well balanced car for the race. We are really after clinching the third place, the official Corvette cars being in a class of their own, but we're a match for the other competitors. In order to reach that objective you have to be as well prepared as possible before the start. And I believe we have achieved this. Now it's the countdown to the race and in the meanwhile we're going to enjoy the great atmosphere and more especially the parade through the centre of Le Mans which will be packed with spectators."
"But it wasn't an easy run up to the event. On Wednesday we hardly had any driving time due to a clutch problem and so we started out on Thursday being one day down and didn't get out to secure the qualifying time. But OK, Le Mans is Le Mans and not a race run over two or six hours. We'll see how it works out on Sunday at 15.00hrs-.."
Saturday, 13th June and Sunday 14th June: the race
"Up until now the race is actually going perfectly", a physically fit Xavier Maassen told us on Sunday midday under a leaden heat. He had just driven a double stint and during his lap had registered a keen time of 3.58, making him the fastest driver of the Corvette-trio. "The car is extremely good, the tyres are very constant and I'm feeling in really good shape. But at the moment we're lying in third behind our colleagues from Pratt & Miller, the Corvette works team and we'll just have to wait and see."
Early afternoon Maassen moved up one place. "We were second as the result of problems experienced by one of the official Corvette cars. After that it was a question of driving with great regularity, not losing our place and defending that brilliant second position. This result is truly fantastic, and with thanks to my team-mates, my team, my sponsors and the entire entourage. Following our difficult start on Wednesday and Thursday our race was quite simply brilliant. We just drove, drove and drove, with double stints, fantastic tyres and without a single forced stoppage." "This podium in Le Mans is definitely one of the high points, if not the highest peak in my career and at the same time it's a springboard to higher things. Because in fact my ambition one day is to be able to follow in the footsteps of Gijs van Lennep and Jan Lammers..."
Unfortunately Xavier Maassen will not have much time to celebrate and rest, as Maassen will be taking part in the third round of the FIA GT with Alphand in Oschersleben next week. Maassen will be defending his third place in the championship standings.