Former F1 driver Riccardo Patrese - who has participated three times in the 24 Hours - is back in Le Mans to cheer on his 13-year-old son Lorenzo set to participate this weekend in the Commission Internationale de Karting at the IAME International X30 final.
Sitting on the steps of the Kart Republic motorhome, Riccardo Patrese is watching the clock: at noon the karting session resumes for the CIK at the IAME International X30 final, a top competition in the discipline taking place this week at Le Mans. Patrese, Sr. has 256 Formula 1 Grand Prix to his credit with six wins and an honorary title of vice world champion won in 1992, as well as three participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1981, 1982 and 1997). "My son [Lorenzo] made his debut in karting two years ago," explains the Italian driver and 1974 karting world champion. Now 64 years of age, he keeps a watchful eye on his son's budding career. "He started when he was 10. Before that, he was more interested in horse riding because after I left motorsport, I took up the discipline with my wife, particularly horse jumping. Then out of nowhere, Lorenzo started talking about karting. I couldn't say no. So I'm trying to help him as much as I can and give him advice, give him the benefit of my experience, but it's hard to see him as a driver! I liked it better when I was the one at the wheel. We haven't talked about my career that much because he's too young still. I had already been retired for a few years (in 1993 for F1) when he was born. My other son, who's older and who experienced my time in F1, never wanted to go into motorsport."
Back in the paddock at Le Mans this week, he has a lot to impart upon his boy. "We got here a few days ago and I told him about the big circuit, the speed and nighttime driving. We went to the 24 Hours museum. I always had a fast car when I did the 24 Hours, but was never able to make it to the finish (Lancia and Nissan, Ed.). I had competitive cars but they had their weaknesses. Generally speaking, we seemed to always encounter problems at dawn. So I've never been able to experience the iconic finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the cars at the time, we could win a six-hour race but couldn't go the distance at the 24 Hours. The first 24-hour race I finished was this year at Spa! I was contacted a few weeks before the race and drove a Honda NSX GT3."
Riccardo Patrese - Michael Schumacher's former teammate with Benetton - has been happy to return to motorsport the last few months. "I'm leaving Le Mans today for Italy . I won't be able to attend the finale on Sunday because I'm participating in the Rally Legend. But Lorenzo's mom will keep me in the loop on his results!"