Alex Brundle believes this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the “best chance” for a LMP2 car to claim overall victory amid questions over reliability for the five Le Mans Hypercar entries taking part in the French endurance classic.
The Inter Europol Competition driver finished on the overall podium in the 2017 race as part of a 1-2 finish for Jackie Chan DC Racing that saw its sister car of Ho-Pin Tung, Thomas Laurent and Oliver Jarvis lead outright for multiple hours.
Brundle believes the possibility exists again amid the new-for-2021 Hypercars from Toyota and Glickenhaus and the grandfathered LMP1 Alpine, which is running 100 kg heavier than it did last year as a Rebellion R13 Gibson.
“We led the race with DC back in 2017 and I would say the reliability of the LMP1 hybrids then was greater than it is now,” he told Sportscar365.
“I believe this is probably the best chance a LMP2 car has ever had to win Le Mans.”
The 31-year-old second-generation driver admitted it’s not something that’s particularly on his mind heading into the race, knowing that it will ultimately be out of his and his teams’ control.
“I’m not going to go out there and outpace Mike Conway in a Toyota! Realistically, it’s something that’s going to fall in your lap,” Brundle said.
“You don’t necessarily have to do anything specifically different.
“It would be cool, wouldn’t it?
“It wasn’t our car — we finished up in second — but I remember that call over the radio at DC to Olly Jarvis at the time, ‘Yeah mate, you’re leading Le Mans overall!’
“All of a sudden the helicopter started following him around. You think, ‘OK, this is pretty awesome.’
“We’ll see how it goes. I’m not overly stressed about that.
“The main thing for us is to get the team to the end of the race in a good way.
“With reliability the way it’s been, with the pace of Renger that everyone knows about and the proficiency of Kuba, we should be in a good spot.”
Brundle said their interaction with the LMH class cars in Sunday’s test day was “totally fine” unlike earlier FIA World Endurance Championship races that saw a closer performance gap between the two classes.
“They are really quick in a straight line, which is fine for us,” he said.
“We’ll wait to see when the qualifying period comes, whether it gets a little bit more elbows out to make sure they get a lap in.
“For me, there are so many LMP2 cars in the field that same-class traffic is going to dominate.
“There are those cars out there still with drivers who are coming to Le Mans for the first time without so much experience and it was really noticeable on the test day.
“You’re catching drivers in LMP2 cars by ten or so seconds a lap.
“That’s going to be a dominant feature of the race but that’s part of Le Mans.”
Inter Europol in Position to “Surprise People”
While yet to reach the podium in WEC competition, Brundle believes the Polish squad has what it takes to contend for the class win this weekend.
Brundle and Silver-rated Kuba Smiechowski are joined again by Renger van der Zande, who is making his third start for the team after missing the 8 Hours of Portimao due to his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship commitments.
“When you delve into the race pace we’re actually really strong,” said Brundle. “We’ve done the fastest full stint of 11 laps that we can see over the field.
“You never know what everyone was running.
“In terms of peak pace, it’s close to being there but as a new team here, we’re not too fussed about Hyperpole, honestly.
“Our little team is in the position to surprise people again over 24 hours.
“The car didn’t miss a beat [in the test day] the whole time, as it hasn’t for the whole of the WEC season so far. We don’t have any young guns trying to prove themselves.
“There’s me and Renger. We know our stuff. Then there’s Kuba who is super cool and just completely focused on what he needs to do. That’s our strength, really.”