Aston Martin Racing: Hancock ready and raring for motorsport’s greatest test

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hancock ready and raring for motorsport’s greatest test
Aston Martin Racing factory driver Sam Hancock climbs back into an LMP1 cockpit at Le Mans for the first time in four years next Wednesday when practice begins for the 78th Grand Prix of Endurance.

The former LMP2 class champion will partner Darren Turner and Juan Barazi in the iconic Gulf-liveried #009 coupe at the world’s most famous race in what will be Sam’s fifth Le Mans 24 Hours appearance.

Despite stepping away from sportscars a couple of years ago to pursue other motorsport categories, the burning desire to race at Le Mans is one that has perennially burned inside Hancock since his last appearance there in 2006.

“I’m massively looking forward to it,” enthused Sam. “It’s always pretty gut wrenching when June comes round and everyone’s talking about Le Mans but you’re not a part of it. It was an ingrained part of my calendar and the highlight of the year. Not doing it for the last couple of seasons was tough so I’m really looking forward to this one.”

2010 will be the first time that Hancock has the backing of a major manufacturer at Le Mans which, he says, is making a marked difference to his preparation.

“Everyone at Aston Martin Racing is just fantastic and as you would expect it’s a first class, very professional, top level team. One thing that’s been particularly good is all the organisation and support they provide for their drivers. In the past, with a week to go, there would been a million things to organise, which brings with them additional levels of stress and distraction, but it’s completely the opposite with Aston Martin. That allows me to focus on myself and ensure that I’m physically and mentally fit for Le Mans’ unique challenges.”

While racing for Aston Martin is bound to stir emotion in any motorsport fan, Sam is well aware of the task at hand.

“On the one hand, as a professional driver, I’m tempted to say that it’s just another car with four wheels and an engine. And to a certain extent that’s true, but you can’t completely ignore the badge on the front. After all, with Aston Martin you’re driving for a marque with so much Le Mans history. I definitely had that feeling the first time I sat in it at the workshop, and then when I drove out of the pits when we tested a couple of weeks ago. But after a few laps you forget about it and just concentrate on driving as quickly and consistently as possible, as if it was any other team.

For most, finishing at Le Mans is considered a result in itself, especially when competing in a class so utterly dominated by diesel prototypes. Hancock remains open-minded though and sees no reason why a good result should be beyond him and his team mates.

“I think it’s very difficult to set goals because we all know that the diesel cars are in a different league even though they share the same category. Clearly we’re going to be in a fight with the petrol runners but that in itself feels a bit defeatist. The good thing is that anything can happen at Le Mans which gives me a lot of hope. The car finished fourth last year so regardless of how many diesels there are, it’s not just theoretically possible to beat them, but a reality. We’re reliable and fast so who knows?

Catch week-long coverage of the Le Mans 24 Hours, including practice, qualifying and the race live on Eurosport and

Sam will also be keeping followers abreast of all the action from inside the Aston Martin Racing garage throughout the week via regular Twitter updates. Click herefor more info.

Le Mans 24 Hours 2010 Schedule:

Wednesday, 9 June

1600 – 2000: Free Practice

2200 – 2400: Qualifying

Thursday, 10 June

1900 – 2100: Qualifying

2200 – 2400: Qualifying

Friday, 11 June

1800 – 1900: Drivers parade, Le Mans city centre

Saturday, 12 June

0900 – 0945: Warm-up

1500: Start, 78th Le Mans 24 Hours

Sunday, 13 June

1500: Finish, 78th Le Mans 24 Hours

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