2019 24 Hours of Le Mans: competitor and collector - This year, François Perrodo will be donning two hats and splitting his time between the 24 Hours track and the circuit’s museum. Among the cars on display in the BMW Art and Victory exhibition which celebrates the German manufacturer’s history in La Sarthe, is the McLaren F1 GTR Art Car (with a BMW V12 engine) which raced at Le Mans in 1995 and was decorated by the French sculptor César. The car, which was ranked 13th overall with Hervé Poulain, Jean-Luc Maury-Laribière and Marc Sourd at the wheel, now belongs to Perrodo. “Initially, I was looking for a street-legal version of the McLaren F1. It’s a legendary car, like the Ferrari F40 – it’s the type of car I had posters of in my bedroom in the early nineties when I was a teenager. The person I’d asked to find me a McLaren F1 road car told me about this Art Car. As soon as I set eyes on it, I could see that it was way more special than a McLaren F1 roadster. What’s most surprising is that this car, which I bought in December 2012, was put up for auction twice at Le Mans Classic and nobody went for it. Since I bought it, collectors have offered me silly money for it, but there’s no way I’m selling. If it’s ever eligible to run in the Le Mans Classic then I’d love to take it round the 24 Hours track!”
Two enjoyable seasons in the LMP2 class - This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be François Perrodo’s last appearance in LMP2, behind the wheel of TDS Racing’s #28 Oreca with Loïc Duval, who won at Le Mans in 2013, and upcoming talent Matthieu Vaxivière: “I’m proud to have had the pleasure of driving these cars. I really wanted a shot at racing in the LMP2 class because they are amazing machines. I was the only Bronze LMP2 driver in the 2017 season of the World Endurance Championship [he drove with Emmanuel Collard and Vaxivière] and I needed two very fast drivers on the team, which is why we’ve got Loïc Duval and Matthieu Vaxivière on board for the 2018-19 Super Season, both of whom are at the top of their game. Loïc has taught me a lot in the build-up to a weekend of racing. He is extremely professional and has laser-sharp focus, both in the car and out, which has really impressed me.”
A Breton from Singapore in Le Mans - Throughout his endurance career, François Perrodo has proudly emblazoned his Breton identity on his cars, never more so than on the LMP2 Oreca 07-Gibson he has driven for the last two seasons. And the tradition is set to continue in 2019-20 with his LMGTE Am class Ferrari 488, with which he has applied to race in next season’s World Endurance Championship. “My father was from Brittany and was very proud of it. It means a lot to me too, especially seeing as I’m mixed race and I also have Chinese roots [he was born in Singapore]. And many of the people who work for the Perenco family business are seafarers who come from Brittany. Our Ferrari 458 already had the ermine on it when I raced in the LM GTE Am class. We are proud to have the Breton ermine on the car and it means a lot our fans in Brittany too. I’m on a mission to bring the Gwenn-ha-du (the flag of Brittany) to the finish line!” he smiles. “If things go to plan for 2019-20, I think my Ferrari 488 will have a resolutely Breton feel to it.”
Photo - LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HOURS, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, 16 & 17 JUNE 2018, RACE. François Perrodo will take part in his seventh 24 Hours of Le Mans this year, driving the TDS Racing #28 Oreca 07-Gibson prototype for the third time, having previously driven Porsche and Ferrari cars in the LMGTE Am class.