Gulf AMR Middle East: Le Mans Update

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Gulf Aston Martin Middle East GTE-Am entry, the No. 60 Aston Martin Vantage featuring the iconic racing colours of Gulf Oil International, has completed two days of practice and qualifying in both daylight and darkness for this weekend’s forthcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans race – the team’s first entry to the twice-round-the-clock endurance classic in the La Sarthe region of France.

Drivers Fabien Giroix, Roald Goethe and Mike Wainwright experienced the highs and lows of top level sports car racing over the two days, all thoroughly relishing time on the famous 14km track. Despite ten hours of track time being scheduled, there were nevertheless frustrating hold ups and interruptions due to incidents and accidents up and down the paddock. The team themselves lost some valuable track time on Wednesday night after a racing incident involving an Audi prototype temporarily side-lined the Aston Martin. Despite this, the car has run steadily and all three drivers completed their mandatory qualifying laps in preparation for the race.

Asked about how the car was performing for the weekend ahead, professional driver and long time co-driver to the team’s co-owners Fabien Giroix said: “I did just two of three laps towards the end of the session and the set up of the car is good. If we had the chance for more laps on Wednesday and Thursday for sure it would have been better but what we have done is enough. I think we have a car now that’s easy to drive and very consistent, which is the most important thing for Roald and Mike. It’s their first time at Le Mans and they need to be completely confident with the car. We made some small set up adjustments Thursday night to give us the best possible chance of this.”

After completing his mandatory night laps yesterday, and with just two days to go until the start of the race, Roald Goethe of Germany reflected on the week’s activities and build up: “I am still very much taking in the atmosphere of this big event but it’s fabulous. It’s very hard sometimes to find a quiet 5 or 10 minutes in the middle of this ‘circus’ but I’ve tried to keep my composure and treat the experience as both serious and fun at the same time, tried to be relaxed and enjoyed it behind the steering wheel. Once you’re out there on the track it all starts to sink in that it’s the real deal. What is it about Le Mans that creates this? I think it’s the size of the event, the long and gradual build up, the huge number of people and the constant attention; I am starting to really look forward to it now.”

Mike Wainwright has found that, so far, his experiences of Le Mans have both met and exceeded his expectations: “Practice was more incident-packed than I expected, on our part and in general; I can’t remember watching a practice in the past where there were so many crashes. From our perspective the three of us have qualified, the car seems to be set up nicely, we’re confident for the race and it’s now a question of taking it easy, being consistent, and staying on the black stuff. You never know what will happen in the race then.”

Asked about his view on the build up to the race, the British driver said, “As a spectator in the past, the number of people here on a Thursday maybe isn’t such a surprise, but the difference between yesterday and today when you look in the grandstands is noticeable, the atmosphere is building and you can sense the excitement in the crowds. If you look at the classes they are all so competitive, and you can feel that people are expecting a very close race.”

There is no track action today, Friday, and the team is now preparing the car for tomorrow’s 3pm start.

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