Montoya open to Le Mans assault to complete historic Monaco, Indy 500 "triple crown"
Only one racing driver has ever won all three 'classic' motorsport events; the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 hours and that is...
Only one racing driver has ever won all three 'classic' motorsport events; the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 hours and that is Graham Hill in the 1960s.
Juan Pablo Montoya is the only driver of the modern era to have won two of those - Monaco and Indy - and he says that, as he matures in his career, he should have a crack at making this piece of history. But he cautions that he is in no hurry to make the assault.
It would certainly be exciting for fans and quite a milestone, given how specialised drivers tend to be these days in comparison with the drivers of the 1960s who drove multiple disciplines. The boss of the World Endurance Championship. Gerard Neveu, has promised to help Montoya get a seat in a competitive LMP1 car when he is ready to take on the challenge.
"I race because I love it," said Montoya, 39 at the FIA Sport Conference in Mexico. "At some point do I want to try and win the 24 Hours? Yes."
Montoya currently drives for Roger Penske's IndyCar team, for whom he won this year's Indy 500, his second victory in the classic event and his focus remains on that series, but admitted that the idea of trying to clinch the historic treble does appeal to him,
"I won Daytona 24 hours three times, but I'm not a guy who says 'In two years I want to be doing that'. I can't see past this weekend's IndyCar race," he added.
"It's hard to programme yourself for the long term, especially if your long term is something different. You are either doing this, or you are doing that. But do I want to try to win it (Le Mans)? Yes.
"I've been lucky enough to be in motor sport for a lot of years and I've provided a lot of entertainment and I've also p***ed off a lot of people. The reason people have sometimes misunderstood me is because I am passionate about motor sport and I love what I do and I want to be better than anyone else."
WEC boss Gerard Neveu can see significant box office appeal in the Montoya challenge and is very keen to make it happen, when the Colombian is ready,
"I hope so. A champion like Juan Pablo is always welcome to on the grid," said Neveu about the prospect. "His achievements and his character are fantastic and I am sure that, if he wants, he can find a seat in an LMP1 car, to fight for the victory. We would really like to have a champion like him."
Multi-discipline drivers like Montoya are very rare these days. Mario Andretti is another star who won races in F1, Indy, NASCAR and sportscars, in all of which Montoya has also won races. But Andretti has only Indy of the three classic races on his CV. He tried over four decades to win Le Mans, but it eluded him.Le Mans was a great success this season, with current F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg winning the race on debut in a Porsche 919 hybrid with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.
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