IMSA ace Ricky Taylor is back at Le Mans for what will be his fifth start, and feels that this year is his best chance yet to score a class win at La Sarthe.
For the 24 Hours, he’s partnered with 3GT Racing driver David Heinemeier Hansson and former McLaren factory driver Come Ledogar in Jackie Chan DC Racing’s No. 34 guest-entered Ligier JS P217. It’s arguably one of the strongest trios in the class.
In addition to his car’s driver line-up being so strong, Taylor told RACER he feels that the LMP2 class should also be far more competitive between the three chassis present.
Over the off-season, Onroak (like Dallara and Riley) was permitted to make changes to the JS P217’s aero to bring it closer to the ORECAs after it was far off the pace last year. The result of the upgrades, Taylor says, is that the car is now within striking distance of the ORECAs, and capable of a big result.
While the divide in one-lap pace still looks to exist between ORECA and the rest, Taylor found reason for confidence after eight hours of running at the Test Day, which saw the best Ligier two seconds off the top ORECA. The gap appears to have shrunk, giving reason for optimism that we won’t see a repeat of the 2017 race in which the ORECA 07s dominated the field.
“It’s exciting to be in a competitive car this year,” he said, referencing his tough run last year in a Riley MK.30. “The ‘Joker’ [upgrade] package has really helped us. I don’t think the outright pace is going to be there, but I think we have a strong package to run, that’s within the margin of a driver, which is good. I think the driver can make the difference this time around — a strong line-up, with a good Silver, means you have a chance to win.
“Because of that, this is the best chance I’ve ever had to win, I’m really excited. I think DHH [Hansson] is a sneaky steal, considering how late it came. Come, meanwhile, is maybe not so well known in the USA, but he’s really quick. I think we have a shot here.
“That’s really important to me. What we have in the USA [in IMSA] is great. But this is such a special event. If you take a year off, you never know if you’ll make it back. We’re still isolated in America, so to keep current here and keep coming back is great. And I want to win here so badly.”
Heinemeier Hansson echoed Taylor’s thoughts. The Danish IMSA regular, who has been driving in a 3GT Racing Lexus this season, told RACER that he too was encouraged by the performance of the JS P217 during the Test Day.
Heading into the race, he feels relaxed. With so many notable finishes at La Sarthe under his belt over the past six years (which includes a class win in 2014 with Aston Martin Racing) the pressure is off, allowing him to enjoy the experience.
“When I look back at my time here at Le Mans and all the rest of the races I have done, it becomes pretty clear that I have had more physical time here, and more seat time too here than anywhere else,” he said.
“It is great to be back here with a program that came together pretty late, but has ended up with a really good combination. It’s good to get back into a P2 car — these new-generation LMP2s are amazing things, and great to drive.
“I just love this race, and I’m lucky to have had some success. I’ve been on every step of the podium and I’ve been disqualified, too. That’s quite a record in six starts!
“I love it so much I would rather run the Le Mans Test Day than race just about anywhere else. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying my racing — of course I do, but I will admit to struggling to find the best way to drive the Lexus (GTD). It’s the first time I have raced a car with ABS and I can’t say that’s something I am comfortable with yet!”