RAGUES READY FOR LE MANS Frenchman Pierre Ragues is ready for the biggest challenge of his sporting career to date: the 76th Le Mans 24 Hours. The 22 year-old from Caen will be aiming for victory in the LMP2 class at the La Sarthe driving a...
RAGUES READY FOR LE MANS
Frenchman Pierre Ragues is ready for the biggest challenge of his sporting career to date: the 76th Le Mans 24 Hours.
The 22 year-old from Caen will be aiming for victory in the LMP2 class at the La Sarthe driving a new Pescarolo-Judd with which he has already obtained some extremely promising results on the Le Mans Series this year. Ragues will share the n.35 car with his regular partner and compatriot Matthieu Lahaye, as well as Chinese driver Franky Cheng.
First qualifying for the endurance classic gets away tomorrow evening, with the second session taking place on Thursday. On Friday, there is the traditional driver's parade through the streets of Le Mans before the race start at 3pm on Saturday.
Pierre will face some extremely strong competition in the LMP2 class at Le Mans, including the factory-supported Porsche RS Spyder and last year's class-winning Lola. The Frenchman only has one previous participation at La Sarthe behind him, but he is still the team leader as Lahaye and Cheng are both Le Mans debutants. Many of the drivers that Pierre will compete against have years of experience at Le Mans behind them, yet he is still hoping for a good result on home territory.
"To race at Le Mans is special for any driver, particularly if you are French," said Pierre. "This is the high point of my year, and almost certainly the biggest challenge of my career so far. We start the race with a number of unknown factors: as the test day two weeks ago was wet, it was impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions about our own pace and that of our rivals. Hopefully, we'll get a more accurate picture during qualifying."
The qualifying sessions at Le Mans are expected to be dry, but there is a possibility of rain over the race weekend.
"We have to be prepared for everything, which is part of the particular appeal of this race," added Pierre. "We'll be aiming for a good result in qualifying, but in the overall scheme of things the grid positions don't mean so much as the race is run over 24 hours. The performances that we have put in on the Le Mans Series make me optimistic, but this is a race where anything can happen. The only thing we can do now is make sure that we are as well-prepared as possible and try our hardest. You don't have to be the quickest on every lap: it's more important just to keep a consistent pace and be there at the finish."
As recently as 2004, the race was won by just 41 seconds -- whereas in 1981 the winning margin was 186 kilometres. The unexpected is to be expected at Le Mans, particularly in the light of the unpredictable weather conditions that have been forecast. Last year just two of the LMP2 cars managed to complete the entire distance -- and Pierre, along with his team mates, will be aiming to be the first home in the tightly-fought class...