Jan Magnussen says the family aspect of his and son Kevin’s first race together at the 24 Hours of Le Mans doesn’t impede on the “completely normal, professional way” in which they are working.
The ex-Formula 1 drivers-turned sports car aces are sharing the No. 49 High Class Racing Oreca 07 Gibson with their fellow Danish countryman Anders Fjordbach.
Quadruple Le Mans GT class winner Jan Magnussen, who is gearing up for his 23rd appearance in the French enduro, told Sportscar365 that the father-son aspect of the experience only “shines through” once the professional work has been completed.
“There’s a nice honest feeling about things, especially driving styles and knowing it’s a sports car team, and all three drivers have to be as fast as possible,” he said.
“I think in all the teams up and down the pit lane there is competition within and it’s nice here that when we ask about driving styles and curbs to hit and not to hit, for once I’m sure I’m getting an honest answer!
“There isn’t a father-son feeling in the meetings and when we’re working with the car. It’s just a completely normal, professional way of going about things. The father-son thing shines through after the sessions back in the camper, when everything is over.
“But when we’re working, we’re working just as we would in a normal team as professionals.”
He added: “I’m very impressed with how Kevin is working with the team, a new team with people he doesn’t know so well.
“The points that he brings up and if there is a problem, how he’s trying to solve it…. I’m learning a lot!”
Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi driver Kevin, who is making his Le Mans debut this weekend, suggested that the process of sharing a car and working on data has been as smooth as expected so far.
“For us it’s very natural to be talking racing,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve done that my whole life. Every time we’re together, we talk racing.
“Debriefing the car and talking about the balance and driving style on track is really natural for us. So it doesn’t feel like something we have to get used to.
“We’ve not been as fast as we would like. We would love to be fighting for pole position, but we’ve been lacking a bit of straight-line speed compared to our sister car on the same setup.
“We’re trying to find a solution to that. Nonetheless, we’re really enjoying the experience.
“Being here as a family is pretty special. It’s a special place to drive whether you are here with your dad or not. I think this whole experience is something we will remember for a long time.”
High Class Troubleshooting Speed Deficit
Both Magnussens indicated that their High Class Oreca has been down on top-end speed since last weekend’s test day, and that the team is working to rectify the deficit.
Kevin qualified 20th in the 25-strong LMP2 class field during Wednesday evening’s collective session that determined the top-six cars taking part in hyperpole tonight.
Despite out-qualifying the No. 20 sister car driven by Ricky Taylor, Marco Sorensen and Dennis Andersen, the No. 49’s top speed of the event so far has been 3.8 km/h slower than the other Oreca in the garage. The difference to the top of the class is 6.7 km/h.
High Class is looking to perform an engine change in a bid to make up some of the lost ground but this will likely happen after Free Practice 3.
“It’s been the main thing we’ve worked on, to get that straight-line speed back,” said Kevin.
“We didn’t start on the same setup [as the No. 20 car]. You can’t just change the engine first thing. You need to tick off a lot of boxes.
“It’s frustrating because it would be nice to just focus on balance and get laps, but most of the work has gone into finding straight-line speed in different areas of the car.
“[We’re doing] a lot of work trying to rectify that. If we do change the engine and do find all that straight-line speed, it would be nice.”