Sébastien Loeb Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

The Sébastien Loeb Racing is about to take its first steps at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an ORECA 03R driven by Vincent Capillaire, Jan Charouz and René Rast.

After two races in the European Le Mans Series - with one podium at the 4 Hours of Imola - and a positive Test Day, the Sébastien Loeb Racing is about to take its first steps at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an ORECA 03R driven by Vincent Capillaire, Jan Charouz and René Rast.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans as seen by Sébastien Loeb

Though he has taken part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice before, with Pescarolo Sport, Sébastien Loeb will discover the challenge in a new light. The nine-times Rally World Champion, who will tackle the WTCC this season, will swap his racing overalls for a team manger’s hat. He confides his impressions about this legendary race, the aims of the Sébastien Loeb Racing, the myth, his new role and also his memories of quite a special day in June 2005.

Objective... " This is our first participation therefore our aim is to cross the finish line and for the team to garner as much experience as possible. Actually experience can make a difference in such a race and the task at hand will be a hard one obviously. This challenge is very specific and one needs to be prepared according to it. Every single pit stop matters. Everything must be perfectly set, both technically speaking and humanly, in order to achieve a great outcome. Mechanical precision and cohesion between men makes the challenge even more interesting. "

Myth... " Both the History and the environment of the race contribute to setting Le Mans apart within motorsport. My two participations with Pescarolo Sport were fantastic experiences. I have fond memories of those. I remember them as a whole and particularly in terms of my sensations while driving. Racing for hours at night-time, waking up in the middle of the night to go out on the track… It was all new for me. The atmosphere was unique, whether at night-time, or in early morning… It was absolutely amazing ! "

#24 Sébastien Loeb Racing Oreca 03 - Nissan: René Rast, Jan Charouz, Vincent Capillaire
#24 Sébastien Loeb Racing Oreca 03 - Nissan: René Rast, Jan Charouz, Vincent Capillaire

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

2005 Test Day... 24H du Mans test day 2014 " That Sunday (June 5th 2005) was a red-letter day for sure. After the Rally of Turkey, I had jumped onto a plane in order to take part in the mandatory laps. I remember how stressed I was when coming out of my Citroën WRC…and then the extraordinarily warm welcome the public in La Sarthe gave me. There was so much enthusiasm, it was incredible to live that moment. Shifting from one extreme to another, in terms of driving, in only a few hours, was obviously quite a thing. "

Team manager... " This role at Le Mans is new for me, but the team functions well together just like a well-oiled system. I will try to bring in my personal experience of this race, with a more external point of view, and to suggest a couple of ideas or directions to take, just as I do as a driver. That will also be an opportunity for me to experience the 24 Hours in a different way and, if possible, depending on the schedule, to enjoy a little bit more the other side of things, the general atmosphere. "

The 24 Hours of Le Mans as seen by Dominique Heintz

Co-founder and Team Principal of the Sébastien Loeb Racing, Dominique Heintz has been fostering the project since the day the team was created at the end of 2011. Driven by his passion and by a leitmotiv that has always remained there - the highest possible, the fastest possible - he gives an overview of this ‘real and coherent project’, as he puts it, just a couple of days before the dream comes true.

Mindset... " We are very humble. Le Mans is a legendary race which needs to be respected and indeed we are approaching it with all the necessary respect. We have not set a goal for ourselves in terms of final result, but rather in terms of approach. This is our first participation and we wish to cross the finish line without making any mistakes in order to reach the best result we can. "

Motive... "This project was set from the moment the team was created. And one year was put down on paper : 2014. We have reached that first aim which shows that the team has picked up the momentum it expected, with its own philosophy being ‘the highest possible, the fastest possible’. For the sake of its own credibility, a team must participate in legendary races such as Le Mans. Setting the Sébastien Loeb Racing team at a certain level was a strong wish of ours according to which we have built the whole project, also bringing in an important human aspect which stands as the very essence of the team. "

The hardest challenge ? " It is a big challenge, but it has been in our minds for a little while now, so we have had the time to get ready for it. We have built up this project naturally and progressively. The red-letter day had been fixed right from the start and we have worked accordingly. Some other programmes have been put up in a shorter amount of time, with a certain degree of urgency for instance."

History... " Big names have competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I cannot recall one in particular. The History of the race, as a whole, impresses me more. Le Mans is one of those challenges without which motorsport would be so different. That is what motivates me, and what motivates us all. We all want to try one day to mark the History of that event too. For decades it has always been an exciting and inspiring race, we all know that event will never disappear. "

Under pressure ? 24H du Mans test day 2014 - " I am not sure whether we feel so much under pressure. We are simply aware that, because of the name of the team, people have expectations. That has been the case since the beginning and we cannot afford to make any mistakes. But, in a way, it is reassuring because everybody is aware of its own responsibility and fully committed. We know that we will have to do an amazing job. Actually it is clearly our objective. "

#LM24dreamer... " This message is displayed on the car. That’s true, we have all dreamt of the 24 Hours of le Mans. That race has always been in our minds and we are about to take an important step. It is hard to explain because that race is a bit of a dream, but we are embarking on a ‘real’ project though, something coherent and well-structured. Those are two compatible things and that is certainly what makes this project beautiful. Everybody is looking forward to it so much ! "

The 24 Hours of Le Mans as seen by Léo Thomas

Having worked with Peugeot Sport before, Léo Thomas really embodies the Sébastien loeb Racing’s mindset through this Le Mans project launched in 2012. Despite his young age (29 years old), the ambitious but humble Technical Director, true jack-of-all-trades, has already got some experience of the challenge in La Sarthe. He gives more details about the team’s preparation and reveals its vision of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the key aspects of the challenge the team is about to take up.

Management... " Le Mans is a specific and complex event. Beyond the sporting aspect of things, it is also the case in terms of logistics or human aspects. The full event is longer than any other since it lasts for two weeks, Test Day included. You must know how to manage a team, both physically and mentally. You must remain as fresh as possible for the day of the race and that is easier said than done. "

Special attention... " It is once a year, therefore you must avoid the smallest issues because you cannot afford even the slightest mistakes. We are very careful at every single race. But it is right that we are even more careful at Le Mans ! Our vigilance is heightened. We increase the number of checks and verifications, especially during the preparation phase. That can be tiring sometimes, for both the head and the body. "

Attractiveness... " Everybody talks about it. Manufacturers start their preparation the day after the race and people’s enthusiasm, whatever their role is, has always impressed me. In a team like ours, people have been looking forward to it for months. Maybe even more since we have been talking about it right from the moment the team was created. Le Mans attracts and stimulates people like no other motorsport event. "

Dimension... " We have competed in beautiful championships and great races, but we are about to participate in the greatest race of all. It takes on a different dimension. Of course, there is the historical aspect. There is also the format of the event : yes it lasts 24 hours, but that one is surely much more difficult than any other 24-hour races. Because of mechanics, of the strategy, of the weather… Because of its layout, its coating, its environment. There is also that little thing which is difficult to explain and which simply makes it like Le Mans. It is just magic for both the teams and the drivers. "

Recipe... " In order to win, you need a consistent car, easy to drive so that your driver can remain ‘fresh’ throughout the whole race. The track evolves continuously as hours go by and the right compromise – different from anywhere else – must be found. We cannot afford to decide of one single setup for each different condition. We must build on everything that we have seen on other racetracks in order to estimate the right adjustments. Sometimes that involves finding innovative solutions. We are forced to make bets, especially in regards to the weather. "

Ambition... 24H du Mans test day 2014 - " It is our first participation thus we must be very humble facing it. Our primer objective is to cross the finish line and to achieve that without making any mistakes on the way. If that was the case, then we would probably be amongst the first places. We do not have any precise result in mind, all the more since we have two rookies as part of our crew. The team gathers members that have already competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but generally speaking they will be discovering that challenge. We have to keep that in mind. "

Class... " Most of the teams entering the LM P2 class are serious contenders for a final victory. The LM P2 class is where most of the battling takes place and every detail matters. It is actually quite simple, you have to do a good job in every aspect ! The crew, the team, the strategy…everything must be optimised. You cannot afford to have any weaknesses. "

Certainties... " Do we have any certainties before such a race ? Perhaps a couple. That may be strange to say it that way but we will not be in pole position. However, we are relying on our homogeneity. We are hoping to be strong and solid in many aspects. We have gone through every single parameter. They could still be optimised, that is for sure, but we have worked in a very methodical way in order to not forget anything and we are happy with that. "

Multi-disciplinary... " We are an all-rounder team and that is an asset. Because of our different experiences in GT, Porsche Cup or in Prototypes, we can summarize things in order to go forward and to be efficient. Though it may stand as a disadvantage sometimes, we can still benefit from that diversity in our programmes . "

Drivers... " Jan’s strength is his consistency on the track and his reliability when there is traffic. He is also very humble and frank in his approach. Vincent is our local driver and, on an event such as Le Mans, that can be of great help. He does not make any mistakes. René is discovering the LM P2 and he is surely the one with the greatest potential. He has some experience of long races and he is a fantastic man, a very human guy. "

Sébastien Loeb... " Sébastien’s presence will be good for all of us. Our performances have always been better when he is there. On one hand, he puts us under pressure a little bit and we therefore all want to do our best. His presence simply raises the team’s potential. On the other hand, he also carries a lot of that pressure on his own shoulders, because all eyes are on him, whether he is driving the car or not. "

Sébastien Loeb Racing

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Track Le Mans
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Eric Gilbert , Jan Charouz , René Rast , Vincent Capillaire
Teams Nissan Motorsport , Citroën World Rally Team , Sébastien Loeb Racing
Article type Preview
Tags jan charouz, lemans, rene rast, sebastien loeb, vincent capillaire