Loïc Duval before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans: “Above all, don’t leave the leader’s lap”

Very lucid when discussing the opportunity to obtain a very good result in terms of pure performance, Loïc Duval and his teammates are banking on the facts of the race to grab a few places over the hours. But to do this, they know that they will have to be meticulous about their race plan.

Published on 15/06/2024 à 11:58

Gonzalo Forbes

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Loïc Duval before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans: “Above all, don’t leave the leader’s lap”

© Julien Delfosse / DPPI

How do you judge your car after a week of driving and a few hours before departure?

Personally, given our position in pure speed, we would have liked to be a little further ahead, but I was convinced that we could not play the Hyperpole. This is a performance reason. There is no pace, at least in the qualifying laps. However, it seems that we are a little closer on the long relays or in race pace. We are still a little too far away for my taste. I don't mind being 5/8 tenths. But here, I find that we are still a little far away. We work, we try to do things as best as possible...

On what point precisely?

For me, the main priority remains reliability. This is a very important point. We had better pre-tests and tests than last year. It's rather positive. But the car is not super easy to take. We have tracks where we managed to do some pretty good things, but we don't yet have the balance and that feeling to say “I'm comfortable and it's going fast.”

Could you explain it?

It's hard to say. Today, we have a package that we are trying to optimize by playing with the settings. But for the moment, we don't yet have this car with which we all feel super comfortable to be able to continue with rhythm. This is a first point. We had very different conditions between Test Day and Wednesday and Thursday. It has been cooler these last few days, there has been a lot more wind too. Thursday wasn't that fast if you look closely. Overall, it's slower than last year.

Did you also feel a difference on the track?

It still wasn't great so we don't really know which direction to go because the conditions weren't constant. We don't necessarily know what is right or not right to know what we are doing in terms of settings. We have a few question marks but I think it's the same for everyone at this level. It remains to be seen whether we will have a track like on Test Day or like Wednesday/Thursday…

Are there any particular hot spots on the track for your car?

I would say the turns Porsche, the Esses de la Fôret… There are also the traction zones. For example, I find that the Cadillac is very strong in this area, the Porsche also when exiting corners. On the other hand, they are not extraordinary at the end of a straight line but when exiting corners and up to 200/250 km/h, I find that they are really strong. From our side, we have the package that we have and behind it we can only see certain things and work on them for the future and for next year. But today, you just have to make do with what you have.

Some drivers from other teams say they don't yet feel 100% comfortable to fully engage in each maneuver, braking... Do you feel the same thing?

We're slower than some but it's a bit the same for us. During the entry phases (turns) we have a somewhat unstable car. In the middle, we find that we don't have the grip we would like to have. It's the balance, it's the general grip that you manage to generate or not with the car. That being said, you can put more aerodynamic load but you are no longer moving in a straight line. It's always complicated.

With an even bigger peloton than last year, some agree that the most important thing about the race will be to stay within the leader's lap. Do you agree on this point, you who start from the rear (the Peugeot 9X8 No. 94 is 20e on the grid)?

Yes but it's not easy these days. Not necessarily because of the performance of the car except in relation to the number of cars. If there is a Safety Car you can quickly find yourself behind someone other than the leader and you lose a lot of time. Then it gets complicated. You will have to be attentive to this. We will try to make the most of all the opportunities that present themselves to us, whether it be our pace, in terms of racing tactics to try to get closer to the leading group and above all not to get out of the leader's lap.

ALSO READ > The starting grid for the 24 2024 Hours of Le Mans

Gonzalo Forbes

In charge of promotion formulas (F2, F3, FRECA, F4...). Carried by the grace of Franco Colapinto.

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Yves-Henri RANDIER

15/06/2024 at 01:08 a.m.

A difficult task for the Peugeots which should not - alas! - not be in the match unlike the Porsche / Ferrari / Toyota trio with Cadillac and BMW as outsiders but what will be the impact of uncertain weather? The magic of Le Mans!!

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