Deep breath… it’s time again for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The test day takes place this Sunday, then it’s race week: practice on Wednesday, qualifying climaxes on Thursday night, final preparations and the traditional parade on Friday, then the race start, finally, at 3pm on Saturday 11 June. The experience is all-consuming.
“There’s no getting away from it: this is the race we all want to win,” says Oliver Jarvis, who with fellow Brit Alex Lynn and American Josh Pierson will bid for victory in the second-tier LMP2 class (and, with a fair wind, perhaps even an overall podium) in United Autosports’ Oreca-Gibson.
“I’ve written myself a few notes on what it takes to succeed at Le Mans,” says Lynn. “For me, the biggest part is keeping control of your emotions. Probably every driver is guilty of expending too much energy on something that isn’t necessary. You need maximum effort with maximum concentration to really be in the moment all the time during the race. That for me is key. It’s easy to be swept up in the event.”
Rivals and team-mates
For both Jarvis and Lynn, Le Mans arrives smack in the middle of a remarkable season. Adding an intriguing dynamic is that they are rivals in the US’s IMSA Sportscar Championship but teammates at United in the World Endurance Championship, which includes Le Mans.
Jarvis, 38, will be making his 11th start in the great race off the back of his biggest victory to date at the Daytona 24 Hours with Meyer Shank Racing; while Lynn, 28, has a second Sebring 12 Hours victory under his belt earned with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Cadillac and will be making his sixth start at Le Mans.
They share plenty of mutual respect and bonhomie, despite the strain of a rivalry in IMSA that has led them at times to share the same piece of track…
Both are grinning. “We seem to be attracted to each other at Turn 1!” says Jarvis. “This season, we had small contact at Laguna Seca and at Mid-Ohio at Turn 4 after the start, which was more on me. It’s inevitable, unfortunately, when you’re racing that close, and it’s part and parcel more in IMSA than it is in WEC.