For every FIA World Endurance Championship driver the highlight of the season is the Le Mans 24 Hours and, therefore, it is no surprise that Andy Priaulx can’t wait to get to the iconic French Circuit de la Sarthe next week to begin his assault on this amazing event. He will be there driving the number 67 Ford GT entered by the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team alongside Harry Tincknell and Tony Kanaan.
“It is not easy to describe the anticipation ahead of this event. We were there a week ago for the official Test Day and just being on this track gets the adrenaline pumping. Our car performed well then and I have every confidence it will be the same when we get to the race. Last year we scored a podium with second and all three of us are aiming for one step higher,” he said.
As always, the competition will be tough and in the LM GTE Pro class there are a total of 17 entries from six different manufacturers, which is an increase of four cars and one manufacturer from the 2017 race. Andy’s comment on this was: “Every year the competition gets tougher and this year it is amazing. The size and quality of the field in our class shows just how important this is as a racing category. While this makes our job harder, it also makes doing well even more rewarding.”
The teams don’t just turn up for track action, but will be there the weekend before the race to start the traditions of Le Mans. Scrutineering takes place in the centre of Le Mans from Sunday onwards with the number 67 at 16.20 on Monday, and when there is no action on the track on Friday the drivers parade through the streets in vintage machinery.
“It is impossible not to get swept up into the whole madness that goes on around us. The fans are amazing and it is gratifying to see so many Brits make the journey. Lots of them camp and also make full use of the funfair that is always part of the off track entertainment. As for the track itself, it is such fun to drive and I defy any driver who is racing down the Mulsanne Straight at full speed not to feel a special thrill,” was his comment ahead of leaving for France.
The cars will first hit the 13.629 kilometre (8.469 mile) long track on Wednesday (13 June) for free practice from 16.00 to 20.00 and then Qualifying 1 will be from 22.00 to 00.00. On Thursday Qualifying 2 will be from 19.00 to 21.00 and Qualifying 3 from 22.00 to 00.00. There is no track action on Friday. On Saturday Warm-up is from 09.00 to 09.45 and the race starts at 15.00. All these times are local so CET and an hour ahead of BST.