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Scrutineering at LeMans from the eyes of competitors
Dirk Mueller
Technical inspection for the Le Mans 24 Hours is unlike any other process in motorsport. It’s a very formal setting in the heart of city and draws huge crowds of spectators and journalists to see the cars roll through administrative checking. Radio Show Ltd’s John Hindhaugh – the play-by-play host of Radio Le Mans – was part of the collective on hand to interview several participants in this year race, including these from the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n.

Dirk Mueller, BMW Motorsport
BMW M3 GT2 (GT2)
(Fuel efficiency of the M3): “It’s a whole combination of things. It’s not just our beautiful engine. It’s having F1 technology back in our group, having former F1 engineers telling us how to make the fuel consumption better. We are working very hard on it. We are getting instructions on how to do it. The last time I was here in 2000 when I was with Bob Wollek, and he was a master of saving fuel. I learned a lot from him.”

Guy Smith, Rebellion Racing
Lola-Rebellion Coupe (LMP1)
I’m really enjoying being back at Le Mans. It should be a lot of a fun with the Rebellion team. It’s so important to have good teammates and I think I have two of the best out there. We know the diesel cars have a huge advantage in speed and economy so they’re going to have their own race which is going to be great. We’ll be racing the Lola-Aston Martin and the petrol ORECA which should be a great race. We want to stay out of trouble and have a clean race. We’re here to race and we’re not going to do anything stupid. We’ll fight all the way through.”

Paul Gentilozzi, JaguarRSR
Jaguar XKRS (GT2)
“It’s been 1996 since I was here last and 1991 for Jaguar with the XJ220 for – so 19 years. It’s been a great honor to be back here. The race is bigger than ever and more popular than ever.”

(Developing the XKR GT) “We knew that it would be a difficult task when the car didn’t get done until late last fall. It’s like training for a marathon naked – everyone is watching! We finished Long Beach and finished the six hours at Mazda Raceway; we had an alternator problem and had to change batteries several times. Mechanically the car is very sound. We’ve narrowed the margin to less than 2 percent in performance difference. We’re sneaking up on it but it’s not where we want to be.”

(Development progress) “The work list after the race is longer every time we race. We’re changing systems. We’ve changed complete drivelines and are in our third iteration. In a perfect world, we would do what BMW did. They kept it quiet, tested privately for nine months. We didn’t have the luxury of time to do that. We felt like we had to expose the car.”

(The British Jag fans) “We brought our own flags to sell so they finally have a new flag after 20 years! Honestly the last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night is the obligation we have to the Jaguar fans all over the world and particularly here in Europe. We consider it a heavy burden and we carry it with a lot of responsibility.”

(Goal for the race) “If you can be running on Sunday afternoon, then that’s a significant engineering accomplishment. The engines have done about 2,000 miles. So here we’ll do 2,600 or 2,700 here and do it 80 percent at wide-open throttle. Living is really the accomplishment here. The test is making the car finish.”

(Long-term plans) “We have a five-year contract, so we’re in it for the long-term. It was important to do the North American program because that’s where they (Jaguar) need to sell cars. That’s where they have lost market share. The XK is the figurehead of the company and we need to market that car through performance.”

Simon Pagenaud, Peugeot Sport Total
Peugeot 908 HDi (LMP1)
“It’s a pleasure for me to be part of this team. Having the chance to run for the victory at Le Mans is something very special for any driver. It’s very emotional. You really feel like you want to do everything right. It’s that race that you’re dreaming for all your life and you’re going to put everything right. I feel OK. I don’t feel any more pressure than usual. You could put some pressure on yourself but I personally don’t. I think I should do the same as I usually do.”

Tracy Krohn, Risi Competizione/Krohn Racing
Ferrari F430 GT (GT2)
“If there’s any one race I could do, this would be the one. Anybody that buys a sports car has to think about driving it for performance. I was no different, and that’s how I started into this sport. I bought a sports car and figured I’d better learn to drive it! And as soon as you catch that disease, you have no choice but to carry it out to the obvious end!”

Marco Werner, Highcroft Racing
HPD ARX-01c (LMP2)
“I’m very happy to be here. I’m really happy to be in a group like Highcroft Racing. Compared to Audi it’s a small team but they are very familiar and professional.”

(Audi LMP1 vs. HPD P2) “I have to change my driving completely – slower on the straights but later on braking and faster in the corners. We have no data and I hope the weather is clear in practice but it looks like rain. It will be difficult for us to collect data and find a setup. We are driving a different configuration than in the ALMS so it will be difficult.”

Dominik Farnbacher, Hankook Team Farnbacher
Ferrari F430 GT (GT2)
(Depth in GT2) You have the best teams from ALMS and the best teams from the LMS. So you really have a world championship here. If you look at the entry list, you see all these big teams, and I think there is quite a big competition. If we’re lucky, they will all go over the limit early.”

A select group of Series drivers and teams will compete at the 78th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The world’s greatest motor race is set for June 12-13 from the famed Circuit de la Sarthe in France. SPEED will broadcast the event live with flag-to-flag coverage available on radiolemans.com.

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