"It has been awhile since I've gotten out of a car this happy!" Vincent Abril couldn't hide his joy after his first laps at the 24 Hours circuit at the wheel of the #78 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Proton Competition in the LMGTE Am class. The charm of Le Mans has definitely worked its magic on the young French driver (age 24). "I told our team advisor Stéphane Ortelli that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life." Abril has been driving GTs in the Blancpain GT Series since 2013, with Bentley then Mercedes this winter (AKKA ASP Team), but he had quite a lot to acclimate to during Test Day.
First of all, the circuit: "It is a superb circuit. I expected that because everyone always tells you how great it is, but not to this degree. I felt good right away. I thought it would take longer to get used to the track and set the braking marks than it did. The Porsche 'Esses' are really the most stunning area of the circuit the first time. You have to go right up to the limit without going over. You give it a little more each time and it still works. What a joy taking those turns, looking for the perfect path." Another aspect of the track drew Abril's attention. "Braking is even more remarkable than I'd thought. You can do as many simulator sessions as you want, the straights are even longer in real life, and you can tell it's a national road, very narrow."
What a joy taking on these turns, looking for the perfect path.
The car also required Abril to adapt. "I hadn't driven a car with a rear central engine in quite some time, since 2013 and the Audi. You can't be hesitant on the accelerator but you also have to be careful. It's a different style of driving. A GTE has more aerodynamics than a GT3 like I've been driving for years. The tires are more elaborate, more suited to the circuits. You have to trust your car because it goes faster in every way. What a luxury!"
Facing off with the 16 other LMGTE Am competitors, Proton Competition's #78 Porsche 911 RSR will be driven by an all-rookie driver line-up of Louis Prette, Philippe Prette and Vincent Abril. The team won the class last year and the drivers are looking for a better result than simply making it to the chequered flag. "The goal is to avoid risks and reward the team's hard work and Philippe and Louis Prette's confidence in me. The team has given us a truly top notch car, ready to hit the track in every sense. I am going to try to do very good stints. I feel confident, and I think we have a shot at finishing well."
PHOTO (Copyright - Triple A): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), 2019 24 HOURS OF LE MANS. Vincent Abril is gearing up for his first 24 Hours of Le Mans with confidence and determination.
Source: Triple A press release.