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Siegel Hails “Polar Opposite” Indy 500, Le Mans Outcomes

Nolan Siegel reflects on up-and-down journey in last month; winning Le Mans on debut…

Photo: United Autosports

Nolan Siegel is “extremely grateful” after a month in which he was both victorious on debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Siegel, Bijoy Garg and Oliver Jarvis drove the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson to victory in the 92nd edition of the endurance classic by beating Inter Europol Competition and IDEC Sport.

For the 19-year-old American, the win at Le Mans comes amidst a hectic period in which he first failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, then made his last-minute NTT IndyCar Series race debut at Road America the weekend prior to his debut at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

“I did the two biggest races, one I didn’t qualify for and one I won on debut,” Siegel told Sportscar365.

“Pretty cool to have had the opportunity to compete in the two biggest races in the world in the same year and for the first time for both of them.

“Two pretty polar opposite results, so it has definitely been interesting, but extremely grateful to have won here.”

Although Siegel has LMP2 experience through outings in the Asian Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, he cited the learning curve at Le Mans as steeper than anything he has experienced previously.

“This track is unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” he said.

“The event is absolutely incredible. It is different from anything I’ve done and a big learning curve. But I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to drive a lot of different things in the past.

“LMP2 is familiar to me, the ORECA is familiar to me. So, lots of new faces, new people that I hadn’t met and a new track. But at the end of the day, it’s still a race car and a racetrack.”

While the No. 22 crew banked on Jarvis’ experience, rookies Siegel and Garg were still tasked with going up against a high-quality LMP2 entry that featured many drivers with significantly more Le Mans experience.

“I don’t think any of us really expected it,” Siegel said about the victory.

“We know Olly [Jarvis] was going to be super quick. The car was incredible. The stops were perfect the whole race.

“Bijoy and I being here for the first time, it was a big challenge. But he was up to speed straight away.

“I feel like we both managed the race well and everything went perfectly. So it couldn’t have been a better day.”

Jarvis “Pushed Like Hell” in Closing Stint to Secure Victory 

The task of bringing the car across the line in the final stints under rainy condition fell to LMP2 veteran Jarvis, who notched up his second class win after a previous triumph in 2020.

Jarvis described this year’s edition of the race as “one of the toughest races I’ve ever done,” noting that he took significant risks to secure the victory in the closing stages.

“To be honest, all week it’s gone well,” Jarvis told Sportscar365.

“We’ve had a really good car. I had a really good feeling going into the race. But to be honest, with the weather we had, it was just such an unknown.

“Throughout the race, you see some cars had pace at certain times in the race and conditions would change. But the two guys did an incredible job to put us in fighting position.

“Then when I got in the car at the end and I saw the rain, I just pushed like hell.

“It was just such a gamble on how much risk you take, the risk of crashing. But at the same time, you can’t leave any lap time on the table.

“So to come away with a win with two rookies [and] with the team… It’s my third attempt with United and they put so much effort into it.

“It’s been an incredible 24 hours, but probably one of the toughest races I’ve ever done.”

John Dagys contributed to this report

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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