To give our fans a better insight into Le Mans from a driver’s point of view, we quizzed the TOYOTA Racing crews on their experiences at the Circuit de la Sarthe. First up, we ask about the effort that goes into Le Mans preparation…
Alex: Most of the physical training you do the entire year but especially the five or six months before Le Mans is geared around endurance, when you are in the car for three or four hours and cannot eat. So I try to do all my training with the least food intake so my body gets used to shifting from burning carbohydrates to burning fat. When you have no more sugar in your body it has to find it from somewhere. Obviously you try to lose as much weight as you can but you have to be careful not to over-do it and get a cold or feel too weak for the race. The whole process just takes many months; almost a whole year, just like the team’s preparation.
Stéphane: In May I can feel Le Mans is coming. Even at Spa when we are racing and want to win the race, we think about Le Mans. We test a lot with the team and that is good training for us. I try to relax a lot; no stress, no negative things. I am just trying to be at 100% the week of Le Mans. It is normal preparation for me; every year like that.
Kazuki: Basically all the testing and racing until Le Mans is our preparation for Le Mans. The main part of the winter testing is, I think, the best training for racing at Le Mans because we have been doing 30-hour endurance tests and that is maybe even tougher than what we do during the race. Ultimately the preparation for the next Le Mans starts the day after the last Le Mans finishes. It is like 365 days a year to get to the race; it is a once a year effort.
Anthony: From a team point of view, it is huge. All the winter testing we do is mainly focused on reliability just for this one race. The infrastructure the team has to build around only for this one race is huge. For the drivers as well, we know how focused we need to be and we know how to pace ourselves. Just to get through the event itself is a big challenge.
Nicolas: There are so many things to build up; facilities, cars, spares. It is a big, big effort. On the driver side, you have to be ready and go there in good condition. You have to be close to your team-mates and to your technical crew to build confidence around you. You push a little bit in training, you pay attention to every detail, for example the way you sleep and the way you eat. If you want to win Le Mans, you have to be 110% ready.
Sébastien: This is the biggest event of the year where everything can happen. There is huge pressure for the whole team. Even if we are working for the WEC too, the main event is Le Mans and everybody works so hard for this race. It is difficult but if you want to get a good result, you have to go into details. This is the price to pay. Clearly, it is a lot of pressure and a lot of adrenaline but the reward is great.