ELMS - 13/11/2017 - Sophie LIGER
Not only did the Frenchman compete in world’s greatest endurance race, he, and his able bodied teammates Christophe Tinseau and Jean-Bernard Bouvet, reached the chequered flag, the first time a Garage 56 entrant had done this. They were invited onto the podium by the ACO in front of the tens of thousands of fans, who enthusiastically cheered and acknowledged the incredible achievement.
Frédéric’s drive to compete at the highest levels of motor sport has led to him working on a new project where he plans to take a team of disabled drivers back to Le Mans. The plan is to return to the European Le Mans Series and compete as a full season entry from 2019 in preparation for a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans the following year.
In addition Frédéric Sausset will work on the recently announced FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission to encourage and facilitate participation in motor sport for people with disabilities, using his experience to enable others to follow his lead.
We caught up with Frédéric at Le Mans where he was attending a special track day for disabled drivers on the 4.2km Bugatti Circuit.
Q: Can you tell us more about your plans to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a line-up of disabled drivers?
FS: “A year ago, I have created the entity “Frédéric Sausset, un volant pour tous”. After the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans it was really important for me to help people with disabilities with driving skills and no structure to help them to drive at a high level; it’s why I created this entity.”
Q: What is the timescale for the selection of the drivers for the new team?
FS: “It’s a lot of work and I’m working on this project for a year now. In theory we should be able to start the activity with a brand-new line-up of three disabled drivers in March 2018. It’s coming quite quickly, the clock is ticking, and this is very exciting. We are still looking for some sponsors and partners, but I have put all my energy into this project.”
Q: Your plan is to compete in the 2019 European Le Mans Series. What are your thoughts on the series?
FS: “It’s a three-year program and the aim is to compete in the European Le Mans Series on the second and third year of the program before taking part to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2020. I know the championship a little as I did a few races in 2016 for my preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I think it’s a great championship with a high level, so it sets the aim high for us, but the goal is to have disabled drivers that can fight with the best ELMS drivers. If we succeed and that we can be in the top five in our class, now that would be amazing.”
Q: How much support have you received with regards to the new programme?
FS: “The project has a lot of support: Jean Todt from the FIA, Nicolas Deschaux from the FFSA and of course Pierre Fillon and Vincent Beaumesnil from the ACO. So we should be able to achieve our goals in this adventure.”
Q: The FIA World Motor Sport Council recently announced the formation of The Disability and Accessibility Commission to encourage and facilitate participation in motor sport for people with disabilities. What are your thoughts on this new commission?
FS: “I think that’s a great announcement as I will work for this commission from this December alongside Gérard Saillant. For me that’s really important as I have seen all the difficulties when I submitted my application for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and especially the one concerning the regulation as nothing was matching for me!
“If we have this desire to set up such a group to help some disabled drivers to compete at the highest level it has to be well prepared. We need to work with people that know well the difficulties and the subject and who have the desire to open this field while keeping the maximum level of safety.”
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