The Richard Mille racing team revs up for Le Mans
- The World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) season begins its second half during the 24 Hours of Le Mans
- The 89th edition of the round-the-clock classic began last weekend with technical and administrative scrutineering as well as Test Day
- Having placed ninth in their category for their Le Mans debut in 2020, Beitske Visser, Sophia Flörsch and Tatiana Calderón are aiming higher this year
Created just over a year ago, the Richard Mille Racing Team has quickly established itself in endurance racing circles with its all-women trio. After a promising maiden campaign, Tatiana Calderón, Sophia Flörsch and Beitske Visser are now back for the prime race of the racing calendar, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Like the other teams, the Richard Mille Racing Team set up camp last week in the Sarthe (France), where its mechanics, engineers and drivers are now preparing for the longest, most difficult and unquestionably the most spectacular race of the year.
“I was really looking forward to the ‘Big One’,”
says Tatiana Calderón. “This race requires so much preparation from the entire team that it sometimes seems like a different championship altogether. With Beitske and Sophia, we did a seven-day training camp at Font Romeu to prepare for this race, which is among the most physically and mentally demanding in the world.”
Before heading out onto the track, all the crews had to pass the administrative and technical scrutineering, where the fiery-red No. 1 Oreca-Gibson was scrutineered by the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) and FIA (Fédération internationale de l’automobile) stewards.
On Sunday, Beitske Visser, Tatiana Calderón and Sophia Flörsch set off to find their marks on the 13.626-km temporary track, and cope with its unique challenges, such as the Mulsanne straight. By taking turns at the wheel of “Roxy”
throughout Sunday, the three drivers were able to build confidence, fine-tune the car and its setup, as well as evaluate their Goodyear tyres on the French track.
After completing 35 laps in the morning, the Richard Mille Racing Team logged 51 more in the afternoon, covering almost 1,200 kilometres with a best time of 3:34.256s set by Sophia Flörsch. The team finished the day with the 18th
best time in the LMP2 category.
“his year’s race is already different from last year’s with a return to the traditional format, including the Test Day,”
adds Beitske Visser,
who put in the most laps on Sunday. “That means we have more track time before the start, which should work in our favour. We use this to keep improving as we did in the previous races. It will also be important not to make any mistakes, especially in traffic management with different performance levels between the LMP2 and Hypercar classes compared to last year.”
“Despite the experience we gained last year, many parameters have changed on the car, engine power and tyres,”
confirms Tatiana Calderón,
whose best lap was just 1/10th
shy of Sophia’s. “We are still learning on each race, which was the case at Monza, although Le Mans is a very singular track requiring very specific setups. Our technical team has a strong track record here, and we have every confidence in them to do better than in 2020. But let’s not forget that you have to first finish the race if you want to finish first!”
The pace will pick up on Wednesday, with the first free practice session ahead of qualifying. Should the trio finish in the top six in the LMP2 category, the No. 1 Oreca-Gibson will advance to the Thursday evening Hyperpole to aim for pole position in its class. Following a final night session, the team will return to the track on Saturday morning for a 15-minute warm-up before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 4 pm.
It’s the biggest race of the year and it will be fantastic to experience the atmosphere of the race with the spectators,”
affirms Sophia Flörsch. “This is our second edition of this race, so that helps us a bit, as we now know the track. However, the LMP2 class is more competitive than ever—as the Test Day once again proved. It will be tough, but we will do our best to test and develop all the resources at our disposal. It’s going to be an intense week, but we’re all looking forward to the challenge!”
“This Test Day was the first new exercise for Beitske, Sophia and Tatiana on their return to Le Mans,”
concludes Signatech Director, Philippe Sinault. “They have been able to get their bearings back on the Circuit de la Sarthe with more track time than last year when the format was shortened due to the pandemic.
The biggest pitfall when participating for a second time is overconfidence, but I’m sure they won’t make that mistake, as each lap allows them to learn more in many areas. Their programme was focused on learning the tyres and tyre wear as well as optimising fuel consumption while driving. These things can be deciding factors in a twenty-four-hour race and they had a really productive day. I am positive that they can achieve an even better result than last year. The dynamic the team has developed since Portimão is a sign of this, as is their excellent result at Monza. Our chances are good and we will do our best to lead our trio as high up the rankings as we can!”
TimetableWednesday 18 August
Live start-to-finish coverage
of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
14h00-17h00: Free practice 1 1
22h00-00h00: Free practice 2Thursday 19 August
14h00-17h00: Free practice 3
21h00-21h30: Hyperpole 2
2h00-00h00: Free practice 4Saturday 21 August
16h00: Start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
2021 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar
|26-27 April ||:||Prologue – Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) |
|1 May ||:||Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) |
|13 June ||:||8 Hours of Portimão (Portugal) |
|18 July ||:||6 Hours of Monza (Italy) |
|21-22 August ||:||24 Hours of Le Mans (France) |
|30 October ||:||6 Hours of Bahrain (Bahrain) |
|6 November ||:||8 Hours of Bahrain (Bahrain) |