LM P2 - 12/07/2019
However it is in the LMP2 category that the 35-year-old French driver has enjoyed the greatest success, winning the category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times since 2015 and winning the LMP2 FIA World Endurance Championship title in 2016 and in 2018/19 with former ELMS championship winning team Signatech Alpine.
We caught up with Nico as he prepares to tackle the challenge of an evening race in Barcelona with Swiss team Cool Racing.
Q: Barcelona is a new track on the ELMS calendar and is a new track for most of the ELMS grid. However, you are one of eleven drivers who competed here in 2009 at the last event held for the Le Mans Series. What are your thoughts on returning to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
“Ten years already…I’m glad to go back at Barcelona. It’s a track that suits well the prototypes.
It’s quite a technical circuit, it should be very hot so for the drivers that will be a real challenge. We will also have to deal with the traffic in the last part that is now quite twisty.”
Q: The 4 Hours of Barcelona will also be held on Saturday evening, the first time an ELMS race has finished after sunset for many years. What are the challenges going to be for you as a driver competing after the sun has set?
“We will have almost 30 minutes at night. It’s a new challenge for the ELMS competitors. We will have to be really focused at the end of the race to not make any mistakes in those harder conditions. We will have less visibility and the traffic will be harder to manage.”
Q: You set pole position in Monza with Cool Racing, are you expecting more progress in performance in Spain?
“With the team, we set the bar high in Monza regarding the performances. Now, we need to have a full weekend, trying to make it happen during the race with a little bit more success.”
Q: We have to talk about your 4th career LMP2 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, racing for former ELMS champions Signatech Alpine. How does the 2019 victory rank alongside your other three wins in the world’s greatest endurance race?
“Every win in Le Mans is unique. This one was quite important for me because it was my last race with Signatech Alpine Matmut before tackling this new challenge with Cool Racing. It’s why I was dedicated to end well this collaboration.
“This win also allowed us to win the Super Season, which made it even more special.”
Q: With the LMP2 category so competitive this season, what are your expectations for the race in Barcelona?
“It is clear that the LMP2 class in ELMS is really competitive. There are a lot of teams able to stand on the podium.
“We would like to finish again in front of the Pro-Am teams. In the general classification, a top 5 will be a real performance for a team with not so much experience in LMP2.”
The 4 Hours of Barcelona will take place on Saturday 20 July, with the race beginning at 18h30 CET and finishing after sunset.
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