Sébastien Ogier and Lilou Wadoux to discover a motorsport monument
A week before the race itself, the Scrutineering and Test Day of the 24 Hours of Le Mans are the first two major events of the flagship race of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
In the build-up to taking on the unique challenge of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Richard Mille Racing Team has been busy conducting a thorough overhaul of its prototype and preparing spare parts for a gruelling test for the machines. After a shakedown on Monday, the team set up camp in the Sarthe region of France. On Friday at 3.30 pm, the N°1 Oreca-Gibson and all drivers' equipment will be meticulously inspected by the FIA and ACO stewards.
Following these initial and compulsory administrative and technical checks, the work will continue behind the scenes before the opening practice session on Sunday at the Circuit de la Sarthe. "After Sebring and Spa, our drivers have been able to get enough driving time to get to grips with this monument to motorsport, says Team Manager Philippe Sinault. The Le Mans 24 Hours is the highlight of the Endurance season, and we share a common goal despite the different challenges awaiting each member of our trio. We are humble but ready to take on the challenge of this legendary event where we have always performed well, and we look forward to showing the true potential of our crew."
While Charles Milesi knows the subtleties of the Circuit de la Sarthe very well, having won there last year, his teammates will take advantage of this Sunday to get their bearings on this temporary 13.626 km track and to fine-tune the car's settings. The team will also focus on perfecting pit stops, and analysing the various Goodyear tyre compounds.
THREE QUESTIONS FOR CHARLES MILES
How do you feel before returning to Le Mans?
‘I feel good, and I still enjoy endurance racing, both for the atmosphere in the paddock and the feeling
behind the wheel. It will already be my third 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2020, I jumped right into an
LMP2 car, which is never easy. I learned a lot last year, meaning that I’m not starting from scratch
again this season after my successful campaign.’
How do you approach your role in the driver line-up?
‘Being considered the team leader is very rewarding. I am approaching this new role with the same
targets as before, and my teammates are at the same level as me, even if I bring more experience
in the category. After his eight world rally titles, it is difficult to think of Sébastien Ogier a rookie.
Moreover, he is a calming force in many areas, whereas I put more pressure on myself. Seeing
how he works helps me tremendously, especially as his background is very different from mine.
Meanwhile, Lilou is also competing in her first season in a prototype, but everyone quickly noticed
her ability to adapt in the first two races. We are growing and improving together, and if we work well,
we will be more and more effective as a team in this intensely competitive category.’
What is your goal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
‘Our first two races have allowed us to see where we stand on the grid and we have gotten off to a
very encouraging start. The Richard Mille Racing Team’s management team has a lot of experience
in endurance racing and even more so in the 24Hours of Le Mans. Our ambition is to up our game and
improve at each event by pushing each other to the top. I am convinced that we have not yet reached
our full performance potential. We have to keep avoiding mistakes to get the maximum track time.
As it is just the beginning of the adventure, we can only get better.’
THREE QUESTIONS FOR LILOU WADOUX
How would you describe your introduction to endurance racing?
‘I got my start in motorsport just five years ago. Two years of front-wheel drive and two years of
rear-wheel drive racing have taught me a lot in a short amount of time. I am well aware that this move
to LMP2 is a big step forward for me. The step is high, and I know it will take time. The sensations
are there, and the pressure too, even if I try to put it all in perspective. Having Sébastien and Charles
by my side is a real plus. Sébastien, despite his newbie status, because he is an absolute authority
in his field, and Charles because he already has a lot of experience in the category.’
Why did you choose endurance racing?
‘Until this year, I had only done sprint racing. Team spirit is what attracted me to Endurance.
I don’t have the experience of my two teammates, but they have already given me a lot. I’m learning
to drive in traffic — where you can’t take too many chances — but to still attack, and also to use
the aerodynamics properly with the support of a technical team that has an impressive pedigree.
£It’s no secret that having the right people around you means everything in motorsport.
How are you preparing for your return to Le Mans?
‘As I have done since the start of the season, I keep working on my mental and physical fitness to be
as sharp as possible. I have done simulator sessions and studied a lot of videos. At Le Mans, I have
the advantage of already knowing the circuit after my victory in the Porsche Sprint Challenge France
last year in support of the 24Hours. The meeting went very well during this fantastic week of learning.
I learned a lot about the specificities of this track; after all, it’s not every day that you drive on
a country road at 300 km/h. All this made me want to go back
THREE QUESTIONS FOR SÉBASTIEN OGIER
How would you describe your endurance racing debut with Charles and Lilou?
‘The three of us come from very different backgrounds, but we are all driven by the same desire
to do well. We work well together, but we definitely have room for improvement. Every kilometre in
the car helps us understand a little more about how to drive this prototype. LMP2 is one of the most
challenging categories because we find ourselves between the faster hypercars and the slower GTs.
I like a new challenge and trying to master it. And I understand that this is one of the keys to being
fast in endurance racing: going fast by yourself on one lap is one thing, but doing it while being
patient handling traffic is quite another.’
What have you learned from your first races?
‘These first two races were intended to prepare us as well as possible for Le Mans. The time went by
very quickly. I already noticed that at Sebring: fortunately, we put in a lot of kilometres during the
Prologue, because it’s true that once the week of the event is underway, you don’t drive that much,
except in the race. It wasn’t a smooth ride, but the most important thing was to assimilate as much
information as possible about the race format and traffic management and practice the procedures
so that everything becomes routine. Beyond our first results, it was a good experience.’
What does the 24 Hours of Le Mans mean to you?
‘It’s one of the legendary races in motorsport in general, and although, to be honest, I’ve never followed
it very closely, it was always in the back of my mind. Because I don’t know much about it, this year
will be a total exploration for me. In a way, I’m even more excited about going for the first time and
getting behind the wheel! It will be a great adventure, and I can’t wait to be there!’