Marc Gene said Thursday at Le Mans that his time spent with Jota Sport both at the previous FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa and this week at Le Mans has provided him better preparation to step into the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro ahead of the 24-hour race.
For the Spaniard, Jota was the sole priority heading into this weekend, not his Audi reserve role. He was aware of Loic Duval’s heavy accident, but did not let it cloud his focus from the task at hand in LMP2.
“Until the testing finished, I was very busy with LMP2,” Gene told Sportscar365. “After the accident some news was coming in; [Audi] were more or less updating me on what was happening. We had a lot of work at Jota and I didn’t think that about Audi that much until midnight.”
With first qualifying ending roughly a half hour short of midnight due to an accident that required barrier repairs, the news came down that Duval would be ruled out of competition for Le Mans as he had not received doctor’s clearance.
That set into the motion the sequence of events where Audi would call up reserve driver Gene, and then Jota would go about replacing him in the No. 38 Zytek Z11SN Nissan (a seat that ultimately went to past Jota driver Oliver Turvey).
Gene has had four days of testing in the new-for-2014-spec Audi R18 e-tron quattro, primarily focusing on learning the steering wheel, dashboard and fuel economy measures.
The comfort level within the team is there for Gene as well. He co-drove with di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis last year and finished third. Gene called di Grassi “one of the best teammates he’s ever had,” and praised Kristensen’s professionalism.
Crucially, the time spent with Jota has kept his race craft sharp, as Gene explained.
He’s optimistic he’ll do more laps than di Grassi and Kristensen tonight in the two qualifying sessions. But all three will have their first chance to turn laps in the new chassis tonight.