RLR MSport has marked its intention to reach the podium in the Michelin Le Mans Cup ‘Road to Le Mans’ (14-16 June), which runs in support of what is widely regarded as the world’s greatest motor race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A grid of 50 cars will take to Circuit de la Sarthe for the Le Mans Cup’s blue riband races and RLR MSport is mounting a two-pronged attack against a full 42-strong LMP3 entry, which features cars from three brands – Ligier, Norma and Ginetta.
Job van Uitert and John Farano will continue their push for podiums in the #14 Ligier JSP3. The Pro-Am pairing had a victorious start to their European Le Mans Series (ELMS) campaign at Circuit Paul Ricard and then achieved a breakthrough Michelin Le Mans Cup podium at Autodromo Nazionale Monza last month.
The aim is always to win, but their resolute determination to reach the winners’ rostrum is heightened as they head to the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe in France’s Loire Valley for the LMC ‘Road to Le Mans’ races.
To stand aloft the famous Le Mans podium in front of 250,000-plus trackside spectators is a mouth-watering proposition for any driver and van Uitert said: “I’m really looking forward to driving on the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe. Even during my preparation day on the simulator, I couldn’t get the smile off my face. It has always been a dream of mine to drive at Le Mans and it will be a great ‘sneak preview’ of what it’s like to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – winning that is my ultimate goal.
“As far as results go, you can’t really make any predictions. The Road to Le Mans are more like sprint races and everybody will be going flat-out. With two one-hour long and the prospect of standing on the prestigious Le Mans podium, we should see two stunning races, and I’m sure John (Farano) and I will go very well.”
Last week, RLR MSport announced it will field a second Ligier JSP3 for rapid Aussie Josh Burdon and Chinese gentleman driver Neric Wei, who finished runner-up in the inaugural FRD LMP3 Series in 2017, before also completing the 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series in second.
That the Burdon-Wei combination was potent against a high-calibre AsianLMS entry bodes well for their European debut in the two one-hour ‘Road to Le Mans’ races, but a Ligier has yet to win in the 2018 Le Mans Cup and Burdon feels he and his Am teammate face an uphill battle to break the Norma contingent’s stranglehold of first position.
“I’m expecting Circuit de la Sarthe to be completely different to what I’m expecting,” said Burdon. “Everybody I know who has raced there says it holds quite a few surprises, so I’m keeping an open mind, although I have done a lot of preparation through data and on-board video analysis and simulator work, and I feel as ready as I possibly can be.
“For Neric (Wei) and I, the first priority will be to finish the races, but I think we can realistically aim to be the top Ligier runner if we have clean, problem-free practice sessions. It will be important to have fun and enjoy the experience of racing at Le Mans, but while we don’t have first-hand experience of racing the Norma M30s, I think they will be hard to beat because of their strength at high-speed racetracks.”
The first Michelin Le Mans Cup free practice session is scheduled for 20.30 on Wednesday 13 June, with FP2 at 9.00 and qualifying from 13.30 preceding the first of two 55-minute races at 17.30 on Thursday 14 June. The second ‘Road to Le Mans’ race will be held at 11.30 on Saturday 16 June, during the build-up to the start of the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans.