The next week will be a very special one for Andy Priaulx as a racing driver, not only is he going to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours, but he is also going to be part of Ford’s history at the event. It is 50 years since Ford scored an historic one-two-three at this iconic event. Now the Guernsey driver will be there racing in a Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and would love nothing better than to help emulate that result.
To say this will be special is almost an understatement. I love this event and have some great memories of my previous visits there. I feel very lucky to be part of the team that sees Ford return there to try and take the GT crown. I have been on the podium there in the past and the feeling cannot possibly be replicated anywhere else. However, I also know how difficult this track can be. A 24 hour race can throw everything at you. Everything needs to come together and there are always lots of things you cannot possibly control, such as the weather and what other cars do on the track. The important thing is to have a solid race with a reliable car. We have to go there with the right attitude. In a way you have to look at it like it is one that is almost impossible to win, and turn this to being one that is also possible to claim victory at and so stand on the top step of the podium.
So far this season the number 67 car that Andy shares with fellow Brits Marino Franchitti and Harry Tinknell has had a great build up to the race, with a podium in the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Spa-Francorchamps. As important as the car being 24-hour race ready is that the drivers are well prepared, as Andy explained:
You have to be prepared both mentally and physically. It is not a super physical track, but the mental pressure is intense. It is the biggest race on our calendar for everybody involved, and so by the end of the race on Sunday you are usually mentally tired. The best way to get ready is gradually build everything up to its peak. You have to make sure you are well rested and arrive at Le Mans, which is a long week, as well rested as possible.
While the triple world champion loves this 13.6 long circuit in central France, he does have some parts he finds more challenging than others:
The best challenge is the Porsche Curves, and it is difficult to get it just right in that whole complex all the way through to the Ford Chicane. Braking for the chicane is a tricky part, as a split second too late on the brakes and you will lock up and miss the corner. Also I find Indianapolis a real challenge, especially when you don’t know what the weather is doing. A small mistake there can do a lot of damage.
The Le Mans experience starts early with scrutineering in the centre of the town on Sunday and Monday. For Andy and his team-mates in the number 67 car scrutineering will take place at 17.20 on Sunday, 12th June, and the first time the cars are on track will be on Wednesday, 15th June, at 16.00 for free practice.
Andy Priaulx Press Release