Jan Lammers is one of the top Endurance racing drivers in the world. In fact, the Dutchman has competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans an impressive 23 times, with as best result a win in 1988 at the wheel of a Jaguar XJR 9 along with Andy Wallace and Johnny Dumfries. A nod to his remarkable popularity, here is an in-depth interview of the driver representing Racing Team Nederland in the ELMS this season with the #29 Dallara P217.
What's your assessment of your 2017 ELMS season?
"We improved throughout the season and we are very happy about that. Of course, the competition in the European Le Mans Series is very high caliber and the cars are all comparable to each other. At Spa-Francorchamps, we came within just one tenth of a second to Andréa Bellichi (Cetilar Vilorba Corse's #47 Dallara P217, Ed.) and finished ahead of another Dallara (High Class Racing's #49, Ed.). So we're thrilled about that, particularly since our expectations are reasonable, we have set very measurerd objectives."
How did the 24 Hours of Le Mans go for you and your team?
"We are happy with how Le Mans went. First, it was the first participation for Frits (Van Eerd, his teammate, Ed.). Then, it was a true pleasure to be able to share the wheel with Rubens (Barrichello, Ed.), we learned a great deal and had a lot of fun. We finished 12th in the LMP2 class, 14th overall, in the wake of mechanical troubles. The most important thing to us was finishing, and for that we are proud."
You returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans six years after your last participation in 2011 at the wheel of an ORECA 01-Swiss Hy Tech. How did it feel?
"It was a very special moment for me because I had thought I'd never participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans again, much less at this level. I hope to do my 24th 24 Hours of Le Mans next year!"
"Rubens (Barrichello, Ed.) loved the car, the team and the atmosphere at the 24 Hours of Le Mans."Jan Lammers
How did you support Rubens Barrichello for his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, and how has he helped you?
"Rubens' style of driving is truly interesting. I could measure myself to him and that helped me. Rubens is from a different generation of drivers than I am. I've known him since I was 16 back when he was competing in the Formule Opel Lotus Euroseries. From my perspective, I tried to offer my experience at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but I'm not sure I helped him that much (smiles, Ed.). In any case, Rubens enjoyed it quite a great deal. He loved the car, the team and the atmosphere at the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
What do you think of this new generation of LMP2s?
"They are superb cars. They allow me to continue to race. The Dallara P217 is well-equipped, with air conditioning, power steering. Everything is accessible with this car, you feel good, it's rather easy to drive and you can always push for more. To go after the last tenths of a second is pretty difficult on the other hand, but driving these cars is a lot of fun."
What is your 2018 program looking like?
"Like I said, I hope to be here again next year to take part in my 24th 24 Hours of Le Mans. That's my goal, it would be fantastic. If it happens, we should participate in the ELMS again with the same team, the same car and the same driver line-up. Meanwhile, it's up Frits to make the decision (the owner of Jumbo supermarkets in the Netherlands and the main shareholder of the team, Ed.). In any case, it's what I'm hoping for!"