LE MANS WINNER LOVES HIS LOLA
Former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Christophe Bouchut was at Lola HQ recently undertaking a seat fitting for his new mount in 2011, the Level 5 Motorsports Lola LMP2. The Frenchman took time out to chat to www.lola-group.com about his and the team’s ambitions, in what will be a very busy year in the ALMS, ILMC and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Lola: Some very exciting times for you and the Level 5 Racing Team coming up Christophe. You must be ready and waiting to get in the car and get off to Sebring.
CB: “It’s really exciting to have a look at what a brand new race car you are building here. It is nice for me to just be here to imagine the feeling of driving a car like the Level 5 Lola-HPD. It will be the first time for me to drive an LMP2 design, so I am really pumped up to get in the cockpit at Sebring. Sebring is a really hard race, so with everything new, of course it’s not the best way to start but that’s why the Level 5 team selected Lola and Honda, for their experience and their reliability in long distance racing.
How busy is it going to be for you because there is the American Le Mans Series, the ILMC and of course Le Mans. What is your personal programme with the team this year?
CB: “Well, I’m doing all the races for Level 5 this year so we are committed to the ALMS, ILMC and Le Mans. It’s more than enough because I am still living in France and after each race I have to go back to France, so the last year I have done about 19 trans-Atlantic flights, so I am really busy all the time but that is the way I like it!”
Just tell us something about the ambitions of Scott Tucker and the Level 5 Team because you drove in the Audi last year with him at Le Mans, and the full American Le Mans Series in the FLM car. What’s the objective this year, what are your goals for this season?
“Firstly, I am really proud they decided to engage Level 5 at this level, especially more this year in Europe at Le Mans because of course with 17 starts already in my pocket at La Sarthe, I have the experience of this race to really help the team. Scott (Tucker) has not so much background in sports cars because he is just beginning his career really. He has been racing for 5 years, so we can consider him in terms of experience a very good gentleman racer but even this is not the right description for him because I think he can become a really accomplished driver and he has proved this with what he achieved in 2010. This year he will do the ILMC, Le Mans, ALMS but also, like last year, the Ferrari Challenge. Even when he is not racing, he is doing tests, so that means he is behind the wheel driving almost every weekend. Our minimum goal this year is to challenge for wins of course but as everything is brand-new we have to be cool at this early stage.”
We all saw the Le Mans entry list a couple of weeks ago. It looks very strong in LMP2 with the Acura cars of RML, Strakka and also the Oak Pescarolos. Who do you think is your main opposition or will you just be focused completely on your own programme at Le Mans this year?
CB: “First we need to run the car, we need to do our first races in USA to have a look that everything is on course and then Le Mans will come very quickly for us. But it will be just a wonderful time for all the people that are working for Level 5 and especially for David (Stone) and Scott who built this team together because I think for a team manager or an owner to watch their own car in a race like the Le Mans 24 Hours is a big achievement. It will be a big day I think for them and for Lola and HPD too of course.”
I think the last time you drove a Lola was the T95/50 for Danielsson in the 1995 Championship. What are your memories of your last Lola experience?