Patrice Lafargue, the President of the IDEC Group, has always been a fan of cars and races, but he has now gone one step further creating IDEC Sport Racing, a race team that is present in two circuits in the VdeV Championship and the 24-Hour Series. He tells us why he has done this.
Where does your passion for car racing come from? It was a passion in my family that was handed down by my father and grandfather, who were crazy about cars, so it is in the Lafargue family genes. I always followed the major races, in particular, Formula 1. And now, my son Paul shares this love of cars, and he too is passionate about racing. Like me, he became a driver late on, as he firstly focused on his studies, but he learns fast and is gifted. It’s a great pleasure for me to be out there competing with him and I really enjoy it.
Why did you set up IDEC Sport Racing? I really discovered racing almost ten years ago, encouraged by the head of a company I had bought, and he was the first to give me the opportunity of getting in the driver’s seat. I was hooked from the start and gradually, I drove more and more regularly, taking lessons and getting advice from the professionals… Until last year, I raced with teams already in place as a client, in particular Ruffier Racing, and in the end, I took the decision late last year to take over the existing team privately and to set up IDEC Sport Racing, which is an extension of Ruffier. We stepped up the number of people involved by hiring, but also invested in capital, which means we now have four cars in the team. We take part in the VdeV Championship aboard a GT and a Proto, and in the 24-Hour Series, with 12 and 24–hour endurance races.
What are you hoping to achieve in these endurance championships? Our first priority is to enjoy ourselves. That’s fundamental as we have to travel around a lot and we spend a lot of time on the circuits. Above all, it must not become a chore. In my job, I have to work extremely hard and to relax I go and race cars. We have built up a team that is a bit like a family, and it’s great to spend a few weekends each year with this little family. I am hoping to enjoy myself driving on legendary race courses such as the Mugello, which I love. It’s a fantastic track in an incredible location, and then, there’s Spa, which is my favourite, the reference race track, but I also love the environment, the atmosphere at these meetings. These championships bring together enthusiasts with 80% being gentlemen drivers, which means they need to be committed.
What about the results? Like the other competitors, we like to get good results and do our best to get as high up as possible. In the business world, we are competitors and it’s the same when I get behind the wheel. I find it fascinating learning how to improve and seeing that our hard work pays off. It’s a huge challenge that generates a lot of emotions, when you get good results. That was the case last year, as we won the European GT3 championship in the VdeV with my son Paul, but once again earlier this year with three wins in the first four events of the season. We could not have imagined a better start! I need this adrenalin boost and the sporting challenge is really exciting.
What are your goals in the short and medium term? This year, the goal is to get the team up and running, and also to continue to get good results. Last year we were champions (with Paul) and the goal is to win at least one of the championships we are competing in this year. After that, I would like to take things further moving to even bigger circuits, aiming for the European Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24-Hour Race.
When will you be competing in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race? In 2016 or 2017. We’ll see. If we go to Le Mans, it’s to be a serious contender. We’ll need to get approved by the ACO, which gets lots of applications with few making it through the process, so it isn’t easy. We are going to have to show what we can do first to be able to apply. I’m now 54, and as I’m dreaming of taking part in the 24-Hour Race with my son, I am going to have to get a move on!