On 3 June at Test Day, Juan Pablo Montoya hit the track for the first time at 24 Hours circuit just a few hours after finishing third at the Detroit round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. We had a chat with the charismatic driver ahead of his first participation in the legendary race.
Juan Pablo Montoya is an expert in ultra fast circuits. In 2001, he scored his first Formula 1 win, at Monza in Italy. In 2000 and 2015, he won the Indianapolis 500. And in 2014, at the American oval circuit Pocono, he did the fastest 500-mile race of all time: 800 km at an average of 325 km/h in less than 2 hours 30 minutes. Here's what he had to say about the 24 Hours circuit: "The turns are extremely fast at Le Mans. They are true fast corners in the sense that if you go out, you can hurt yourself. There's the right turn just before Indianapolis. And in the Porsche Curves you keep as much speed as you can. I've loved fast turns my entire life."
Juan Pablo Montoya is also familiar with long races, counting three wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona (2007, 2008 and 2013) on an oval circuit which for him includes a road portion inside the oval for that race: "At Daytona, I can always stay within the same tenth, but that's impossible at the Le Mans circuit. It's wonderful but it's not easy, there are a lot of traps. I was surprised how demanding this circuit is. It takes so long to get back to the same place, if you don't stay focused, you can forget what you need to do the following lap. But I kept going faster during Test Day."
For his first 24 Hours of Le Mans, Juan Pablo Montoya doesn't seem to be feeling any extra pressure: "If we get a good result, that's great. But if we don't, I'm ok with that. I'm happy just being here." At the wheel of United Autosports' #32 Ligier, the 42-year-old Colombian will join forces with two drivers slightly younger than himself: Will Owen (23) and Hugo de Sadeleer (21)!
PHOTO (Copyright - Jean-Pierre Espitalier/ACO): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), PLACE DE LA REPUBLIQUE, 24 HEURES DU MANS, SCRUTINEERING. After arriving in Le Mans for Test Day on 3 June at 8:00 a.m. directly from the U.S., Juan Pablo Montoya took the wheel of the #32 Ligier for the first time.