Jan Magnussen has described his recently announced 24 Hours of Le Mans drive with his son and fellow ex-Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen as a “once in a lifetime” chance.
The father-son duo will team up in a race for the first time this August, sharing a High Class Racing Oreca 07 Gibson with Anders Fjordbach in an all-Danish driver lineup.
Magnussen, 47, said that he worked 20-hour days trying to help get the necessary deals together for this year’s Le Mans edition, knowing that his 28-year-old son would be unavailable from 2022 once he starts driving for Peugeot in the Hypercar class.
Kevin Magnussen currently races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi category for Chip Ganassi Racing, while double IMSA GT Le Mans series champion Jan is making his full-season WEC debut this year with High Class in the LMP2 Pro-Am division.
“We’ve tried to put a deal together with me and Kevin for such a long time, many times with Corvette,” Magnussen told Sportscar365.
“We got to the point where we were looking at other endurance races like Daytona and Sebring. But then this came about: High Class Racing had an extra entry.
“We looked at it and thought that this could work out. It all came together in literally two weeks, approaching Danish companies to come and support this. There was a ton of support.
“The story behind it – Kevin and I being at Le Mans together hopefully in front of thousands and thousands of Danish fans – a lot of companies bought into that story to allow us to achieve our goal and dream. That was fantastic.
“It was two really, really hard weeks, working for 20 hours a day trying to get this together. But it’ll be a fantastic experience regardless of what happens.
“It’s a once in a lifetime and absolutely the last chance we have because next year Kevin is off to Peugeot.
“Hopefully he will be there for many, many years. I’m so happy that it finally came together because it was the last chance.”
Magnussen said that he’s particularly looking forward to seeing how he and Kevin interact within the race team environment and the high-pressure situation of Le Mans.
“The conversations will be different when we’re sitting and debriefing, so I’m really looking forward to sitting next to him during that and listen to him, to find out how he thinks about things,” he said.
“Because I would have experienced the exact same thing as him. To get his view on how does he decide what’s important and what’s not important, where does he want to work, what doesn’t matter and so on.
“So I’m really looking forward to that, getting some input from him. Regardless [of result] it will be a memory to cherish and something to think about and talk about forever.”
Magnussen Adapting to “Harsh” LMP2 Style
This season marks Magnussen’s first campaign in the LMP2 division and will include his first Le Mans in a prototype in since the 2003 edition when he drove an Audi R8 LMP1.
The quadruple Le Mans GT class winner with Corvette Racing sampled the High Class Racing Oreca during the 2019 WEC rookie test in Bahrain and also conducted limited private testing with the team at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya earlier this year.
Without an extensive pre-season testing regime behind him, Magnussen is continuing to adapt to the Oreca during this week’s official Prologue test at Spa, and admitted that his wealth of GT driving experience in various Corvettes has counted for little to this point.
“It’s very different from what I’ve been doing in GT cars, but slowly and surely I’ve been finding my way around the driving style that this car needs,” he explained.
“It’s not easy. I really feel that all my experience from the GT cars is not really useful. It’s such a different way to drive the car. But I can bring other things to the table, other ways of working from the experience I’ve had with Pratt & Miller and Corvette Racing.
“I did 25 laps at Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, but here with the running I get this week, leading up to the race, should be good enough to get back on the pace.”
Asked further about the challenges of adapting his driving style to the LMP2, Magnussen said: “The car just feels super harsh compared to the GT cars that I’ve driven.
“It’s very aero-dependent, low and stiff. Much stiffer and harsher than the GT car. That’s what I’m still trying to get used to, it’s hard. But a few more days and I’ll be good.”