Juicy podium for Julien Jousse Julien Jousse executed his mission perfectly in what was his grand debut in the world's biggest race. He made not a single mistake as he and team-mates Yann Clairay and Xavier Maassen took their Luc Alphand ...
Juicy podium for Julien Jousse
Julien Jousse executed his mission perfectly in what was his grand debut in the world's biggest race. He made not a single mistake as he and team-mates Yann Clairay and Xavier Maassen took their Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette to second place in the LM GT1 category. To crown it all, Pierre Fillon, vice-president of the ACO, awarded the man from the south of France the Jean Rondeau prize for being the most talented, courageous and tenacious French rookie.
This season Julien is the only Frenchman competing in the brand new FIA Formula 2 championship, which the federation has set up as an F1 feeder. From one week to the next, however, Julien left the confines of his Williams/Audi single-seater for the completely different surroundings of endurance racing. The least we can say is that he didn't choose the easiest arena or the smallest race! After just one session of practice at the wheel of the Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R over in Dijon, Julien checked into the Le Mans paddock wide-eyed with wonder, ready to live the dream...
Open practice and qualifying soon brought Julien back down to earth with a jolt. "We hit quite a few technical issues. To make matters worse it rained on Wednesday, which meant we weren't able to do as much practice as we would have liked. Bear in mind that I had loads to learn on this unforgiving circuit. In the Corvette we lap at over 205kph on average and we go into and through turns at very high speed. I was very worried about reliability but the race went wonderfully well, we had no problems at all. None of us made any mistakes on the track. That said, Yann, Xavier and I had to be very vigilant. When you're driving a GT at Le Mans the big bugbear is the LMP1 prototypes at night. It's OK during the day, you can judge their speed and anticipate their manoeuvres but at night you can only just make out their headlamps with the rear-view camera at the back of the Corvette."
There was hardly a whisker between the two Luc Alphand Aventures Corvettes until night fell. They were lapping like clockwork in 3rd and 4th places until a Lola Aston Martin literally propelled car No. 72 at 200kph into the wall at Tertre Rouge turn. So the crew of youngsters in No. 73 had to meet the challenge of getting the solitary remaining Luc Alphand Aventures car safely home across the line. Fortunately no incident marred their progress and they raced on to take the 2nd spot on the GT1 category podium. About two hours from home the gearbox of one of the two works Corvettes gave out. For Yann, Xavier and Julien, who was at the wheel for the home run, this was an unexpected bonus! The works cars have engine improvements and better aerodynamics than the privately-entered models. "It's a fabulous feeling when you take the chequered flag! All those people in the stands, the pits invaded, the marshals waving during the lap of honour... I'm definitely coming back here next year if I can!"
Julien is back in England now, preparing for next two FIA Formula 2 championship meetings. The first one is in Brno next June 20-21. Then he has Spa the following week.