Team logged the necessary laps to prepare for the race
While some members of the Sébastien Loeb Racing were achieving several wins in Lédenon, both in the French GT Championship as well as in the Porsche Carrera Cup France, another part of the team was right at the heart of a discovery phase in Le Mans, for the Test Day of the 24 Hours. With Vincent Capillaire, Jan Charouz and René Rast, also supported by Laurens Vanthoor, the Alsace-based team was able to follow its plan, trouble-free, garnering the necessary kilometres in order to approach the racing week in the best conditions possible.
Two years after its first participation in the Test Day, the Sébastien Loeb Racing has returned to the very specific atmosphere of those two racing weeks in Le Mans launched by the waving green flag, at nine in the morning. The team relied on Jan Charouz’s experience of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as he was first on the track, providing a good starting point for the day. His usual teammate in the ELMS, Vincent Capillaire, and then René Rast took turns in the morning. Later throughout the afternoon, each member of that trio succeeded one another at the wheel of the ORECA 03R. Laurens Vanthoor also had the opportunity to go on the track in the No.24’s seat.
The team had established a busy work plan for the day which was divided into two 4-hour sessions. There were many new elements: first a new car, the ORECA 03R, then some new Michelin tyres and finally three of the four drivers that needed to be qualified with 10 mandatory laps to complete. The team accomplished its mission in the end.
"Generally speaking it was a good day for us since we followed our plan to the letter," says Léo Thomas, Technical Director. "We had many things to discover whether it be the ORECA 03R or the new Michelin tyres. And actually, there is never enough time in Le Mans! But, on a more serious note, we have completed the exact distance in kilometres that we wished to have done. We still have more work to do on the setup, but our car’s top speed is good, and we go through the Porsche turns quite fast too. Our drivers did a great job. Jan was very consistent, as usual, Vincent will have to drive a little more in order to become fully confident, and René has lots of potential. Laurens also participated in the Test Day. It was important for us not to miss out on the day so that we can approach the racing week in the calmest way possible. It was a good rehearsal, it is our job now to build on it."
As third driver of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside Jan Charouz and Vincent Capillaire, it was the first time since the practices in Le Castellet last April that René Rast had been at the wheel of an LM P2. He was taking his first steps on the circuit of La Sarthe on that occasion. "Everything went well," he says. "That was an interesting experience, on that new track and with a car that I had not driven in a while. We did not encounter any issue and I had good sensations... There is obviously a great difference traffic wise, with the GTs, but after three of four laps, I started getting used to it. I am happy with our performance. And I am also aware of how much we can still progress. It is a first for the team in this challenge, and we can still improve our setup. That is positive."
The Sébastien Loeb Racing’s ORECA 03R will remain in Le Mans throughout the week and will be entirely adjusted and improved before the technical scrutineering and licence verification on Sunday.
Sebastien Loeb Racing