Juan Pablo Montoya’s United Autosports team will need to find more speed after placing 14th out of 20 LMP2 entries during Wednesday’s opening practice session at Le Mans, but in his usual laid-back style, the two-time Indy 500 winner wasn’t overly concerned.
“It’s pretty good, to be here, be honest,” he told Radio Le Mans late in the four-hour outing. “We’re still trying to figure out the track a little bit; we haven’t done a lot of laps, but it’s good. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the car. But overall, I’m pretty happy.”
The Acura Team Penske driver has traded his ORECA 07-based ARX-05 DPi for a spec Ligier JSP217 chassis on his Le Mans debut, is using Dunlop tires in place of the Continentals found in IMSA, and a pair of new teammates to share the No. 32 UA entry. Turning laps during the recent official Le Mans test day helped, but the Colombian says there’s more speed to be found by the team as is jells.
“It’s tough because the car drives very different from I’m used to,” he added. “It’s a different tire, it’s a different car, it’s a different track, it’s a different everything. It’s been a fun learning curve. We’ll be fine — just need a little bit of time.
“The car’s very sensitive to changes. That’s good and bad. Any small change seems to react very big. So, we’re trying to understand what we need later for qualifying.”
As one of the most popular drivers in the 24-hour event, Montoya has been overwhelmed by the reception at Le Mans. One Saturday arrives, a crowd size similar to that of the Indy 500 is expected.
“I know I do have a lot of fans here in France from my Formula 1 days — the way I raced and everything — people seem to appreciate that. It’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s amazing. It’s hard to believe the amount of people that will fit here. To finally come here and live the event is pretty awesome.”