What does the 24 Hours of Le Mans mean to you as a driver?
I think the 24 Hours of Le Mans is every driver’s dream. It’s always been one of my goals, although I’d set my sights on the Indianapolis 500 to begin with, seeing as I spent four years of my career in the US. But the 24 Hours was right up there on my list on a par with the Indy 500. I didn’t think I’d get to Le Mans so soon, so it’s been a nice surprise to take part in it this year, and I’m really looking forward to it.
How did you get on with your introduction to the track, on the simulator and on Test Day?
Obviously, I did the mandatory simulation test at AOTech, which went really well. Then I went back to the Duqueine Engineering training centre and spent some more time on the simulator there, so I could get to know the track, but also get used to the traffic management and fuel consumption, which is crucial in order to do longer stints. I’d never done that type of thing before. On Test Day itself, I felt at home pretty quickly because of everything I’d done on the simulator, and I increased my pace throughout the day. We also have a similar outlook, so it looks promising.
What’s it been like working with Romain Dumas and Pierre Ragues?
I’m very lucky to have such experienced teammates for my first 24 Hours. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Romain, particularly about what not to do when it’s your first time: like not trying to impress people. I’m still in the early stages of my career and I need to prove myself when I’m out there, but you have to respect the track at Le Mans and not try to do too much too soon. You have to keep the car in one piece and not be overly ambitious too early on. The day before Test Day, I did a recce of the track with Pierre, and he also told me about mistakes I need to avoid, and which kerbs I should or shouldn’t take.
How do you think your experience of ovals in the USA will help you at Le Mans, which is a very different shaped circuit but is still a high-speed racetrack?
I think that my experience in the States means that my brain is used to very high speeds. I’ve driven in Indy Lights [the feeder series to IndyCar, the biggest American single-seater racing championship] in Indianapolis, where speeds average at 330-340 kph. American races have got me used to tough circuits with very little runoff, as well as driving on strips of road which are used by normal cars. So in that regard, I knew what to expect on Test Day.
Where do you see Duqueine Engineering, which is also a newcomer at Le Mans, in the LMP2 rankings?
On paper, we’ve got what it takes to perform well, so we’ve got a good chance of a podium, perhaps even a win. It’s true that it’s the team’s first time as well as mine, so before aiming for a result, we need to focus on finishing. We do six four-hour races in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS). You could say that the 24 Hours of Le Mans is like a whole ELMS season packed into one weekend. So it’s a new experience for me and for the team, and we’ll try to do the best job we can. The team has prepared the best it can; the mechanics have been working out at the gym since last year with this challenge in mind. We’ve covered all our bases and we probably have one of the best LMP2 teams around. Now we’ll try and execute the perfect race and achieve the best finish.
PHOTO - LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY 2 JUNE 2019, TEST DAY. Like many other young LMP2 drivers, Nicolas Jamin is aiming for a long career in endurance racing with this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans the first of many.