After claiming GTE-Am class honors last year, David Heinemeier Hansson returns to more familiar territory of the LMP2 ranks at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the Dane sets his sights on making further progress with the Tequila Patron ESM team.
The rapid Silver-rated driver, who is set for his fourth start in the French endurance classic, heads in as one of the Le Mans veterans on the Scott Sharp-owned team, which makes its race debut this weekend.
After a trying start to the year, which has seen the Florida-based team go through three different LMP2 chassis, Le Mans will mark the second consecutive race with the Ligier JS P2 Honda, and the first significant running time with the Onroak Automotive-designed prototype.
“I’m optimistic about the whole thing but at the same time realistic about our chances to win it,” Heinemeier Hansson told Sportscar365.
“Finishing it should be first on our agenda. Then if we can somehow sneak out a podium, that would be wonderful.
“The car is there and the team is great if everything’s going to work. But as anything, when you show up with a team at an event like Le Mans for the first time, it’s rare that it just floats right through.
“Twenty four hours is such a long time. Everything has to go right.
“In 2013, we drove incredible pace for 24 hours. We hardly had anything go wrong and that still wasn’t enough to take it, given all of the events that occurred there.”
While finishing second in LMP2 in 2013 at the wheel of OAK Racing’s Morgan-Nissan, Heinemeier Hansson broke through to claim class victory one year later with Aston Martin Racing, a result that ultimately took him to the GTE-Am World Championship.
He’s taking a different approach this year, returning to the LMP2 class and teaming with Sharp whose one-and-only previous Le Mans start came in 1996, and fellow three-time starter Ryan Dalziel, who claimed LMP2 class honors in 2012.
While ESM doesn’t lack experience, particularly with the success it has achieved in IMSA competition, Le Mans often presents a challenge unlike any other race in the world.
“It’s great to be there to here with Tequila Patron ESM and fun in a different way,” Heinemeier Hansson said. I’ve always arrived with a team that had all of the [Le Mans] experience in the world.
“You come here with an OAK or Prodrive… they’ve done this race for ten years. Everyone knows everything.
“It’s kind of fun actually to show up there, as somebody who’s done it four years in a row and be a little bit of the veteran, which is a different experience for me… I enjoy it.”
Heinemeier Hansson feels getting their Rolling Stone-sponsored Ligier JS P2 Honda to the checkered flag on Sunday would provide a crucial learning experience, especially heading into the second half of the FIA WEC season.
“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s like we’re doing four [WEC] races in a row. That’s why I really want us to finish above anything else.
“Yes, it would be nice to grab a great result, but most importantly is that we just do 24 hours of running. You learn so much.
“I remember all of the other years, you come out of Le Mans on the other side with a completely different attitude to the rest of the championship. Because it feels like you’re a veteran after you’ve been through that.
“We do two races before [Le Mans] and it feels like you’re starting to figure it out and then after Le Mans you’re like, ‘We got it.’
“Thankfully, I’ve been here three times prior and always made it to the end. So I hope we can continue that.”