Vincent Abril says he’s keeping his expectations in check for his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, driving in an all-rookie GTE-Am lineup for Proton Competition.
The GT3 standout is enjoying soaking up the experience of his maiden Le Mans, and confident of a good result relative to his and his teammates’ relative inexperience at Circuit de la Sarthe.
The former Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe champion is sharing one of Proton Competition’s four Porsche 911 RSRs with father-and-son duo Philippe and Louis Prette, serving as the team’s lead driver with his Gold rating.
“It’s an awesome experience so far,” he told Sportscar365 at scrutineering.
“I’ll be driving with Louis and his father, and we’re long-time friends, so it’s a great sporting experience but a human one as well. It’s an awesome way to start Le Mans.
“I was always very humble about our chances, I wanted to wait and see until after the test [day]. I think we’ve exceeded expectations and we’re actually really in the game.
“The car is fantastic, the Porsche 911 RSR, they did a fantastic job with it, and the team is very professional.”
Abril showed promising pace at the test day, finishing as the fourth fastest Porsche driver in GTE-Am, and behind only Matt Campbell, Julian Andlauer and Ben Barker – all drivers with considerable experience with Porsche GTE package.
Most of Abril’s recent racing experience has come in front-engined GT3 cars, including the Mercedes-AMG GT3 he currently races and the Bentley Continental GT3, both of which are very different to the mid-engined 911 RSR.
“We’ve shown great pace and promise, and it’s a monster race, so we’ll have to wait,” he said. “It’s not only just pace, but pace-wise, we’ve been very happy so far. So far, all the lights are green.
“It’s a fantastic car. It reminds me a lot of the Audi [R8 LMS GT3] because of the engine position, and it’s a fantastic car so it makes all the adaptations easy to the track, to the environment.
“I was a bit concerned about the traffic with the prototypes but it’s not actually that much of a big deal, and I can’t wait to get started now.”
His enthusiasm for Le Mans is clear to see, with the Monegasque reveling in the atmosphere of the historic event.
“It’s mega. Obviously, I’ve been a bit warmed up with [Total 24 Hours of] Spa because it’s a bit of a similar feeling, it’s just obviously a bigger event, very historic,” he said.
“I like history and I like all of the people who went before me and I’m always very respectful of that, so to be able to do it, especially in the Porsche, is a very special feeling.
“Everything is open this year, there’s a very competitive field in GTE-Am, so I’m expecting to play at the front but we’re also very humble and trying to take it in as three rookies, it’s going to be a challenge.”