Sebastien Ogier feels he needs to “continue making some steps” to improve behind the wheel of an LMP2 car and that more track time during his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut will be beneficial.
The eight-time FIA World Rally champion and Le Mans rookie is driving the Richard Mille Racing Team Oreca 07 Gibson, teaming up with Lilou Wadoux and reigning FIA World Endurance LMP2 champion Charles Milesi.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Thursday’s track action, Ogier said that he has found negotiating traffic around the 8.467-mile Circuit de la Sarthe “very exciting” so far and that he is seeking further improvement in terms of consistency as the event rolls on.
He admitted that his first night laps at Le Mans on Wednesday were “not that easy” and that he had to re-learn some aspects of driving in the dark after doing it many times during his off-road carer.
“I am happy that we made some steps compared to the previous race,” Ogier said.
“In Sebring and Spa, we struggled a lot with the balance of the car. It seems we have found some positive things here.
“I personally have to continue making some steps. I know I can do better, and I’m still not satisfied with what I do in the car. But I believe it’s kind of normal at this point.
“I hope that doing more laps during the race will help me to find the consistency in being better.
“I am starting to understand more and more, doing good sectors.
“It is difficult to do a full lap because you always have traffic, but I hope that driving time will help. That is what I feel I need most at the moment, is driving more.
“Generally, the track is cool here. Even on the straights, you have to manage the traffic, so it’s never boring. So far I enjoy to drive the track in general.”
Ogier, whose best lap time so far has been a 3:37.641 set during the test day, is relishing the challenge of his LMP2 program and suggested that he prefers the steep level of difficulty.
“It is challenging, but I always expected it to be like this,” he said.
“I didn’t expect it to be easy. There are not so many common things between the two sports.
“You see the field is very strong, especially LMP2 this year. It is the most competitive category. I prefer it that way.
“I am not here to have some lines in my [career accolades]. It is more the challenge of progressing and then being competitive at some point, if I can.
“That would be more rewarding for me, than having a podium here if there were five cars starting the race.”
Milesi, who narrowly missed out on today’s hyperpole by placing seventh in qualifying, reckons that Richard Mille Racing Team is now in a better place with its Oreca after struggling to break out from the LMP2 mid-pack at the first two races of the WEC.
The Signatech-run team finished 12th at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, three laps off the class winner, before improving slightly to eighth at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa.
It tested for two days at Monza to solve its Sebring balance issues for Spa, but Milesi said the changes made for that race did not manage to bring Richard Mille into the mix.
“In Monza it worked quite well but in Spa it was not enough,” he suggested.
“At the test day, it was still not enough, and we tried to make a big step for yesterday. I think it’s working quite well.
“Compared to what we are used to, we changed a lot of things. But the setup of the car is quite different from the other tracks.
“We were struggling a lot when the temperature is quite high. We are trying to focus on this and having a car that is a bit easier to drive, because that’s the main thing we were struggling with.
“This track is a bit particular, so things can be a bit different compared to normal tracks.
“We need to confirm that for the next race at Monza.”