Before the track activity started on Thursday we had the opportunity to chat with SMP Racing drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Stoffel Vandoorne to get their thoughts on the race ahead.
“The biggest challenge for me will be driving at night in the rain, ‘if’ it rains” said Mikhail, “this is not something I have done before, and the visibility at night is quite bad anyway.” One thing which may help with visibility of his competitors is Rebellions new livery “It’s really bright, so that helps us seeing it in the mirrors!” he said.
“Driving the P1 car, you have to be at 98% all the time as you are always overtaking someone, you cannot drive at 100% otherwise you will get tired too quickly and then make mistakes.” Mikhail continued “You cannot win the race at the start, but you can lose it at any time, the most important thing is you are consistent.”
Joining the team for his second race in endurance is Belgium driver Stoffel Vandoorne who made his debut at Spa Francorchamps in ‘changeable’ weather conditions. We asked how he was feeling before the start of the track activity: “I’m feeling good, I had a really good start to my endurance career at Spa, which was not the easiest weekend with the weather, but I experienced a lot which was the plan before Le Mans.”
“I think the most difficult part for me will be the lack of sleep and having to jump back in the car during the night.” We asked whether there were any similarities between F1 and P1: “The LMP1 car is almost like a closed in F1 car, it reacts very similarly to the F1, it has a lot of downforce and reacts similar in the corners, but is a little heavier.”
Both Mikhail and Stoffel race in the number 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 – AER in the LMP1 class. During Thursday qualifying the car was placed 6th in class with a 3.20:934 lap time.