“It’s fantastic – it’s the one race I’ve always wanted to be a part of,” Chilton told RACER. “Ever since I started racing karts, it’s one of those races you go to bed watching, you wake up and you watch it until the end. Each year that passion grows and grows.”
Chilton’s desire to race at Le Mans predates the ambitions that ultimately led to landing in the Grand Prix paddock.
“Even before I went into Formula 1, I always wanted to do this race,” continued Chilton (RIGHT). “I didn’t know how long Formula 1 was going to last, whether it was two years or 10 years, but I knew I wanted to do this one day.”
As part of the ambitious Nissan program, the 24-year-old Briton is having his first taste of a factory effort while helping the team to develop the GT-R LM NISMO platform.
“I know I’m really lucky to be in a works LMP1 team the first year at Le Mans,” Chilton said. “It’s a really alternate sort of project and it’s something exciting to be a part of. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we get on and off at this race. When you have such a radical concept, it does take a while to get a bit of traction but in initial testing we were struggling, and then the last few tests we made massive of steps forward, every time. We hope to continue that throughout 2015.
“As a lot of people know, it’s a three-year project and it is a bizarre concept which takes a little bit of time than the usual projects. I think 2016, you’ll already start to see how the idea is going to be executed.”
On a personal note, Chilton is coming off his first experience lapping at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy Lights event prior to the Indy 500, and will follow it with his debut at Le Mans. After practicing and qualifying for the Freedom 100, a fuel issue kept him from racing on the legendary 2.5-mile oval, he says the experience of completing two “firsts” in the span of three weeks won’t soon be forgotten.
“It’s a really good thing to have on my CV,” he said. “For me, the three biggest races in motorsport are the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours. I’ve ticked one of those off the list at Monaco in Formula 1, I was at the Indy 500 weekend with Indy Lights, and I would like to tick that off one day. We’re soon to tick off the Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s pretty good to have those at such a young age. And it’s a real honor to be here and be a part of the special event.”