Although it’s been four years since Joao Barbosa has raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he’s not expecting too much of a difference as he returns to an LMP2 coupe this week.
Barbosa was a somewhat late addition to Krohn Racing’s lineup as the third driver of its No. 40 Ligier JS P2 Judd, only confirmed in early May alongside team regulars Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson.
He’s the fourth different co-driver they’ve had this year, along with Ozz Negri in the European Le Mans Series and Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
He’ll be making his eighth Le Mans start overall, and third in LMP2 (2006, 2011).
Barbosa’s last LMP2 outing came with Level 5 Motorsports, when he shared a Lola B08/80 Honda coupe and scored his first career Le Mans podium co-driving with Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut.
His best overall finish in the race was fourth in 2007, co-driving a Rollcentre Racing-entered Pescarolo 01 Judd with Stuart Hall and Martin Short.
Although Barbosa missed the test day, he’s not too concerned about adapting and jumping back in.
“It’s joining Krohn Racing, having my first time in WEC and the first time I am working with a lot of those people,” Barbosa told Sportscar365.
“It’s always interesting to go to Le Mans. Unfortunately I didn’t do the test day but I’m good for the regular test.
“It’s a lot to learn into a short of time, but every time I’ve been there was in a prototype.”
Much has changed in LMP2 since Barbosa’s last Le Mans appearance. The Oreca 03 was a first-year chassis, and the genesis of the Morgan chassis, the OAK Pescarolo, was present in both LMP1 and LMP2.
Of the teams, only Greaves Motorsport, Signatech Nissan (now Signatech Alpine), OAK Racing and Strakka Racing still continue in 2015 after racing in 2011. The field has grown from 11 to 19 cars, as well.
This race will be the fifth of the season for Krohn, having done the first two races in TUDOR Championship and first two in the full ELMS. Pla took the car to the overall pole at Sebring.
Barbosa is relying on his past experience, as well as the knowledge gleaned from Jonsson and Krohn, to prepare for the week ahead.
“It’s such a demanding track… so it’s a good thing to help me develop my confidence pretty quick,” Barbosa said. “I’m pretty confident we can do a good job there.
“I haven’t even sat in the car. My first time will be during race week. But I don’t see that being any problem at all.
“I’ve been talking regularly with the team and can familiarize myself as quick as possible.
“It’s P2, I’ve driven those cars before, it won’t be night and day difference so I don’t see that as a big issue.”