IDEC SPORT is experiencing the magic of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race for the second time. In spite of the importance of the event and the best LMP2 time in the first qualifier session, the team is the same and has kept its style based around a family spirit. We look back at what happened at this afternoon’s press conference in Le Mans.
If performance is what lies at the heart of any car racing team, IDEC SPORT stands out from the others, as Patrice Lafargue, Nicolas Minassian and the drivers, Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas pointed out at the press conference. Values count more than results, even if the two can go together, as we saw with the provisional pole position achieved in the first qualifying session. The five men appeared to be solid and ready to face the legendary twice round the clock race in Le Mans.
“I’m pleased to be here alongside my team. I really admire the three drivers. They work well together and get on well,” declared Patrice Lafargue, who is the owner of the team. “We’re a semi-pro team, but the most important thing for us is to enjoy ourselves. At IDEC SPORT, we share the same values and that is important for me. It gives everyone a boost. It’s symbolic but key for me.”
Patrice Lafargue manage to put together a strong team this year matching the IDEC SPORT goals, in particular with a new head of racing, Nicolas Minassian, who has taken part seventeen times in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. The former Peugeot WEC driver does not take the greatest race in the world lightly however, as he explains. “IDEC SPORT is a team built by Jean-Claude (Ruffier) and Patrice (Lafargue) and full of top quality people,” said the manager, who invited Memo Rojas to join the French team. “I have known him for some time and we won the ELMS together. He’s someone I trust. I know that I can sleep peacefully and the car will remain on the track. Paul-Loup is calmer at the wheel, but when he gets excited, he smashes times and he knows all about Le Mans. Paul is impressive. He has all the qualities of the others, but has less experience, but he is making fast progress. He has learnt a lot from his co-drivers and his speed is impressive.”
The Mexican, who adds a foreign touch to the French team, is pleased to be part of IDEC SPORT, both on a human level and in terms of the racing. “During my career in the U.S., I drove for some big teams and won the IMSA four times and the Daytona 24 three times. I was lucky to be able to race in the ELMS as soon as I arrived in Europe and to win the championship last year. Now I’m focusing on Le Mans. I’m really delighted to be part of this team.”
Paul Lafargue is key to the IDEC SPORT trio in his position as silver driver, as his co-drivers stated during the press conference. Even if he is fast, Paul Lafargue takes things one at a time and knows there is a lot of work to do: “Here we have to remain humble. I trust my co-drivers and the team to manage this meeting as best they can. I had some goals at the start of the season, but I have crossed them out. I’m taking one race at a time. I give it my all. We’ll stay on the track and see what happens,” said Paul, fully satisfied with the way the team works. “Our pattern is similar to that of our rivals, but we talk things through a lot. As soon as we get out of the car we give each other advice. We know that to make it to the finish, it takes the three of us. I enjoy myself with them, whether they have the helmet on or not.”
Paul-Loup Chatin, the best performer in the qualifying session, gave us his feelings about these qualifiers and his work within the team: “We had some good trials, so we want to continue like that. Yesterday, we managed to get the best time, but I think it can be bettered this evening. I find it hard to believe that that time will enable us to set off in pole position. We can try to get a few extra hundredths of a second. The team has done a great job. They fully understand what the three of us want and they see it through all the time. We give our feedback and when we get back in the car, we can be certain that they have made the necessary improvements. That’s how we can do well without taking risks,” analysed the driver, who studies politics at one of France’s top schools
The key to our success
“To be successful in car racing, there are several factors. You need a competitive team, but that’s not all. There is a real family spirit, which is very important, as everyone feels close. But at the same time, this is a professional team. I think that today we bring together the best elements in the IDEC SPORT team with the Oreca and the Michelin tyres.”
“I’m really pleased to be with Paul and Memo. I think it is a bit like what Audi put together with the drivers forming a family. That’s what it feels like this year. We’re not just co-drivers, but friends too. No one keeps anything from the others. Memo is someone you can rely on and his successes speak for themselves. He is humble and drives fast. Paul is very competitive, which is a great surprise. In my opinion, he really changed at Portimao last year, when conditions were complicated. He has confirmed his ability this year on all the tracks. He managed to set the best time for example in Monza,” added Paul-Loup.
IDEC SPORT on the track and on the water
IDEC SPORT is present in car racing in several championships, but the IDEC SPORT team goes beyond that and has become famous too in the world of sailing. The IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran smashed the crewed round the world record on 26th January 2017. It took Francis Joyon and his crew just 40d 23hrs 30mins and 30s to round the three legendary capes (Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn) and return to France.
“The boat also involves a personal adventure. I was lucky to meet Francis a few years ago and grew attached to him,” explained Patrice Lafargue. “I’m really spoilt. He has won so many races and records with the IDEC SPORT boat that it’s one long honeymoon. The next big event is the Route du Rhum. Francis remains youthful in his mind and gives it his all to get a good result with this ageing boat. I can’t wait for the start and the finish. I shall once again be proud to see him set sail.”
Follow everything that is going on thanks to the special arrangements put in place by IDEC and don’t miss any of the excitement of the 2018 Le Mans 24-Hour Race on Facebook: IDEC SPORT Racing, Twitter: @IDECSportRacing and Instagram: idecsport_racing_officiel17