What the drivers said post qualifying: LMP and GTE
Below is what the LMP and GTE pole-sitters had to say during this evening’s post qualifying online press conference for the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual.
LMP Pole-sitter: Jernej Simoncic
No.4 ByKolles - Burst Esports - LMP ORECA
So, Jernej, talk us through your qualifying?
“I was under immense pressure as you can imagine! I was not really feeling at my optimum level but I felt good when qualifying started and was able to put out a good lap. Even in the practice, there were 23.8s but – 23.6 was expected but I didn’t expect everyone to be so slow… not saying that in a bad way but it worked out for us! I took advantage of the slipstream in the last lap which helped us even more.”
There’s so many big names involved in this race… what emotion do you feel about being on pole?
“I suppose it’s a bit different because it’s virtual. I guess it’s somehow expected from us – sim racers – to be quicker than pro racers and at the same time, I think most of the grid during qualifying was filled with the sim racers. So, for the moment I’m just trying to go through what happened and I’m sure in a couple of hours I’ll understand it more. I’m especially happy for tomorrow - even if it’s a 24 hour race and qualifying doesn’t mean that much, it’s still nice to have clear air into Turn 1 and less danger around.”
What are you expecting from the race and where do you see your main competition coming from?
“I am going in with an expectancy for top 3 but the most important thing on our minds right now is that we have a good set-up. For the long run, this is the main important thing. Our main competitors are Team Redline and any of the Rebellion Williams Esports teams – they looked really good for qualifying and have good slipstream strategy. I’m a bit confused about the current order so I need to look through the data. It’s hard to say, it will be a really hard race for the top 10 – anything is possible!”
GTE pole-sitter: Joshua Rogers
No. 93 Porsche Esports Team - Porsche 911 RSR
You took pole by six tenths of a second, another tense battle for you?
“Like you said it was a tense battle… it makes it even more special to put the car on pole. It’s a long race tomorrow so we really need to buy our ticket to the last few hours but it will be fantastic to start on the front row and have some clean air into Turn 1. I’ve been looking forward to this event since we have started preparing about a month ago… a lot has gone into this from everyone at Porsche Motorsport behind the scenes as well as all the drivers too.”
And you’re with Porsche Motorsport right now?
“We’re actually at a team house where Porsche Motorsport team is right now. It’s something that you don’t see that often – teams having a house. It’s exciting, a little bit different. Maybe sometimes stressful – there’s a lot going on, with people everywhere. But it’s going to prepare us properly for anything that could come in the future.”
For anyone not so familiar with sim racing, how much tuning of the car are you able to do – can you make a real difference to it?
"Massively… gear ratios are fixed but everything else from tyre pressures all the way down to damper adjustments, aero, traction control – everything you can probably think of, as well as putting telemetry, into it as well. With a 24 hour race you have to keep in mind that obviously qualifying is all abut speed but tomorrow is all about making sure the car is drivable, especially through the night. Also, when you throw in rain it adds another challenge. So, set-up is massive and something which we have to test across a lot of different scenarios beforehand - we feel like we have prepared as well as we could have done.”
Do you feel you have the race pace advantage over the other teams?
"It’s very tricky to have a good gage on pure speed against the other teams. This was our first accurate representation of where we are against the competition. I think everyone is going to approach things differently tomorrow – they may be driving 80% and teams will try to think more about the strategy. We’re in a good position but I guess we’ll know more once we get through the night.”