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Bortolotti: LMDh Not A Factor During “No Pressure” Debut

Mirko Bortolotti says he is not on an LMDh fact-finding mission during ‘dream’ Le Mans debut…

Photo: Brecht Decancq/WRT

Mirko Bortolotti says he is not on a fact-finding mission for Lamborghini’s future LMDh effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but is instead fully focused on his making event debut as part of Team WRT’s LMP2 effort.

The Italian will be making his first appearance in the French classic, driving a third Oreca 07 Gibson for Team WRT alongside Dries Vanthoor and Rolf Ineichen.

Bortolotti’s Le Mans debut in a prototype coincides with Lamborghini’s recent announcement that the manufacturer has committed to an LMDh program racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2024.

While the 32-year-old is currently part of Lamborghini’s factory roster in GT3 competition, he insists that the LMDh program is not on his mind at Le Mans and that he is instead more focused on making a ‘dream’ debut at the event.

“No, it’s not necessarily connected,” Bortolotti told Sportscar365.

“But for me, it has always been a dream to race at Le Mans one day. I always said I wanted to go to Le Mans, not as a spectator but as a driver.

“Getting the opportunity to do it this year with WRT in LMP2 is fantastic. I’m enjoying it. What the future will bring, we don’t know. We will see.

“It is definitely great to see the news that we will go into the top class in LMDh. It has been emotional for me to see it officially; internally we knew already what was going on, so it’s great to see that.

“The future looks bright for the brand, which is great.

“But on my side, I am just focused on Le Mans 2022 with WRT in LMP2, and what my duties are with Lamborghini in GT.

“For the future, it’s not in my hands. They will take their decisions. You always aim to be in a program like that, but we will see what the future holds.”

Bortolotti described his No. 32 crew as ‘underdogs’ in contrast to WRT’s two full-season WEC entries. Out of the three drivers, only Vanthoor has more than one start at the event, both of which came in GTE machinery.

With the nature of the entry and the lineup’s relative inexperience, Bortolotti is approaching this week with tempered expectations and views it mainly as a learning experience.

“No pressure at all, just learning the track, learning how Le Mans works,” he noted.

“Obviously you’re not coming only to say that we’re just trying to learn.

“We have some ambitions and we want to do well, but first we’re focusing on ourselves and doing our homework, trying to make steps throughout the weekend and hopefully being in a good position for the race.”

The Italian, who is racing full-time in the DTM and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup year, has gained significant GT3 experience over the last few years but lacks a prototype racing background.

Bortolotti tested the Oreca at Portimao and Aragon before heading to Le Mans and was able to get up to speed with the Gibson-powered machine quickly.

“When I went to Portimao for the first day, I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t driven a prototype before,” he said.

“I knew how driving a single-seater feels like. Once I got in the car, it didn’t take me long to get used to the car and understand how to drive it. It’s definitely a lot more grip everywhere generally, but especially in high speed.

“In the low-speed parts you need to get used to the braking and understand how to drive the car in order to get the maximum out. Generally, I felt comfortable straight away in the car.

“I struggled more getting back into a GT when I went to Lausitzring [for DTM] because everything is different there.

“It gives you a lot of confidence straight away, but to find the last bit – especially on this track – takes a little bit of time.

“Unfortunately we were a bit limited on the first day due to an issue we had on the car, losing crucial track time. But we will start again tomorrow with Free Practice.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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