recently pre-tests for the Le Mans 24 Hours were on the agenda. A wonderful feeling caught hold of me when I returned to this course which, after all those years, seemed to be completely new in many details which I had to memorize anew first of all. Some corners were faster than I remembered them - even though in those days we achieved much higher top speeds. In 1999, if I remember correctly, down the straight we got up to 360 km/h, while today all we can manage is about 310 km/h.
The course as a whole is simply great fun, with the so-called ‘Porsche-Kurven’ in particular being a real challenge. They are, however, not altogether without their dangers, as could be seen when Guilleaume Moreau suddenly and vehemently took off, only to land in hospital where he had to undergo an operation. I would like to wish him on this occasion once more a good recovery and a speedy return to racing!
During the test rounds we tried out among other things the aero configuration to be used at Le Mans which had not as yet been tested on the car. Moreover, I was “forced” to reel off ten laps of the course so as to be able to take part in the race as such in the first place. I therefore had to be first at the controls in the morning, before Nico Prost and Neel Jani took over from me. The track was at first slightly wet, though I able to finish my part of the programme rather fast and without any trouble.
It was quite a good feeling and certainly important for me to be able to have a few early laps on the Le Mans course. As I said before, the course has changed over the last thirteen years, especially regarding details such as kerbs and the tarmac. And also, the car I piloted then was quite different from today’s cars. I was of course still roughly familiar with the course layout - though not well enough to push the car up to the limit.
Now I am happy to face the Le Mans challenge! My hope is above all that we manage the 24 Hours more or less trouble-free to achieve our target of finishing the race as the best petrol-driven car. Our competitors so far have put up a strong performance and had better lap times to show. I think, though, that our chances to improve on them are still good, maybe even in qualifying already. It will surely prove to be a thrilling race and I can only hope that I will be luckier in my third 24-hours attempt after 1999 in Le Mans and a few weeks ago at the Nürburgring. Well, maybe third time lucky…