Sébastien Baud: “I experience Le Mans like a childhood dream! »

It is with a big smile on his face that Sébastien Baud begins his first 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, with Corvette and TF Sport. The Frenchman tells us about his first experience in Sarthe and his expectations before the race.

Published on 13/06/2024 à 14:44

Dorian Grangier

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Sébastien Baud: “I experience Le Mans like a childhood dream! »

© Julien Delfosse / DPPI

Sébastien, this is your first participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, how do you feel in this special atmosphere?

I live Le Mans like a childhood dream, firstly, because I think that for everyone, it is still something wonderful. Then, it's the race after the Centenary, so we still have a lot of manufacturers who are there, there are the fans from last year who are coming back because there was a completely fabulous Centenary. We still have a enthusiasm that is extraordinary. On Sunday, Test Day, it was incredible. There were a lot of people there, so that already put us in the mood. It also prepared us a little for what we were going to have all week. Even, without mentioning Le Mans, since the start of the season in WEC, we see that we are still lucky to have had a lot of fans at Imola, Spa as well…

…and Corvette is one of the fans’ favorite manufacturers here!

That's it ! For Corvette at Le Mans, there is really a particular enthusiasm. We see it in the parking lots, in the stands, in the paddock. It's just fabulous. What we can see, for example, in Italy for Ferrari, we will see it here at Le Mans but for Corvette. So it's fantastic to see that we are not in America and finally, we are here in France and Corvette is very well represented and very popular. So it’s a great source of pride, even more so for me because I’ve been a Corvette fan since I was little. I couldn't say why, but I was a real fan because I'm very much into it. NASCAR,IndyCar. I'm a fan of all these races in the United States and today, to drive for this brand at Le Mans, it's just a dream come true, a childhood dream. I put myself in the position: come on, let's go, we enjoy every moment on and off the track, with the fans, with the team, with my teammates.

For you, is representing Corvette the accomplishment of your young career?

If I'm here, it's because I have the skills, because Corvette and TF Sport have chosen this crew. I'm also taking this opportunity 100% and I'm enjoying it. I'm having a great time in the WEC. At Le Mans, I go to the village as much time as possible to see the people, to enjoy it like when I also came as a fan. And there, today, in the car, the first laps were just fabulous. When I got out and took the Mulsannes full throttle in the Corvette with the V8 in the back shaking, it was wow! I was smiling from ear to ear!

What is the feeling like on a lap at Le Mans?

When you drive on this circuit, it's fantastic to drive. A magnificent route, and even if there are a lot of straight lines, it is still very technical. When I did my first lap on Sunday, you saw everyone around the circuit, so it made you dream even more. I saw myself as a kid again, I had all the images flashing by. And there, today, it's me who is in the car, people come to see me because I represent Corvette and it's an incredible source of pride for me, for my family, my parents who have supported me a lot in this project, who are also in motorsport. It's a great pride to be here, to drive in France for Corvette. I can't wait to be at the start of the race, to sing the national anthem on the grid. I think I'm going to get a lot of chills!

What can your teammate Dani Juncadella, who is more experienced in motorsport, bring to you, especially here at Le Mans?

Dani, who is a very experienced and very fast driver. Today, we have real chemistry together and we understand each other very easily. When there's something where he sees that I'm not doing well and that I have the right hand, he's going to be there and he's going to push me up. Today, I can say that I am having a good start to the season with great references with the best average in the race at Imola, the best lap on the track at Spa. So Dani brings me real serenity. He is someone who is very serene, who stays a little in his corner, who is very calm, who analyzes a lot. I take the example from him to calm down and stay focused on what we need to do.

You are also supported by Jules Gounon in your preparation, what are you working on together?

We have a group with Jules and Dani where we exchange very regularly. We do a lot of video conferences, a lot of simulators to debrief. I do more upstream work on race visualization. I watch a lot of races to analyze tire management for example. Today, what allows me to arrive perhaps also a little more serene, is that I have a good culture of motorsport and I know how to arrive while being well prepared for the races so as not to have too much depression.

How do you approach traffic management at Le Mans, especially at night when visibility is difficult and perhaps with the rain that will mix in at the weekend?

Already, I hope not to be overtaken by the GT3 but rather to overtake them! (laughs) On the other hand, yes, with the Hypercars and the LM P2s, we saw at Spa that it is very complicated. Here, at night, it's still quite impressive because you can't tell whether it's a GT, an LM P2 or a Hypercar. So, the problem is that if you are fighting with a GT and then ultimately, it is a Hypercar that passes, it is this type of thing which can create confusion. You have to stay calm, maybe even sometimes losing a little time, rather than having a problem, a contact with a Hypercar or an LM P2 where the slightest contact can be quite dramatic.

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Dorian Grangier

A young journalist nostalgic for the motorsport of yesteryear. Raised on the exploits of Sébastien Loeb and Fernando Alonso.

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