Nick Tandy reckons the G-Drive Racing by Algarve LMP2 operation has “potential” to do well at the 24 Hours of Le Mans despite its last-minute entry and lack of testing.
The No. 16 Oreca 07 Gibson was a late addition to the entry list just two weeks before the event, while Tandy and his fellow IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship star Oliver Jarvis were announced alongside Irish racer Ryan Cullen in the driver lineup.
This brought Tandy back onto the grid after his original ride fell through because of the CORE autosport-run Porsche IMSA squad’s withdrawal from GTE-Pro.
When asked if he’s considering G-Drive/Algarve Pro Racing as an LMP2 contender despite its short-notice entry, Tandy told Sportscar365 that “‘absolutely it’s on our mind.”
Driver rating-wise, the No. 16 Oreca has one of the strongest crews in the second-tier prototype class with two FIA Platinum-rated drivers joined by a Silver competitor in Cullen, while Algarve Pro also won the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series with G-Drive.
“This team was put together at late notice, but we have potential with all these ingredients – the G-Drive link up, the Algarve Pro team and the driver lineup – to have a good event,” Tandy told Sportscar365.
“If perhaps one of those ingredients wasn’t there, it wouldn’t have gone ahead. From a driver’s side, I don’t think we’ll be lacking. Ryan has experience racing here last year and Olly and myself have been here a few times before.
“When you look up and down the grid, experience counts a lot, especially for how teams work together.
“With the multi tire supply in class, there could be changeable conditions in the race and there might be a point where one tire is better for the conditions than the other.
“This could play to our advantage because we’re hopefully one of the stronger cars on the Goodyear tire.”
Tandy explained that the last-minute nature of the G-Drive/Algarve entry has prevented him from doing any testing ahead of Thursday’s practice and qualifying sessions.
“The first time I’ll drive the car will be in Free Practice,” he said. “That will be the first time I’ve driven an LMP2 since 2015. I drove on the same family of tire then with the Dunlop, so I’ve got some kind of reference going from what I’m used to from Michelin.
“From what I understand, I don’t expect this to be as much of a challenge. The challenge will be setting the car up correctly to get the most out of the tire and flesh out multiple stints.
“It’s also things like the seating position and the way the steering wheel is positioned. It’s those sorts of things that normally your body and muscles train into through testing.
“It’s not ideal to go straight into a 24-hour race without building up that muscle memory of how you’re seated in a particular car, but it is what it is.
“We’re not expecting to set practice and qualifying alight, but hopefully by the time we get into the crux of the race, that’s the important thing.”
Prototype Return Bringing Excitement
Tandy added that he’s relishing the opportunity to race a Le Mans prototype again and to drive in between the faster LMP1 cars and slower GTEs during the 24 Hours.
The Porsche factory driver previously drove a KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship but has never competed in LMP2 at Le Mans.
This weekend will therefore mark his first appearance in the more powerful current generation of LMP2 machinery, as well as his first time contesting Le Mans in anything other than a Porsche.
“It’ll be a strange situation,” said Tandy, who is set for his eighth Le Mans participation. “I’m used to being in the class that has to watch the mirrors quite a bit, and I’ve also been used to being in the class where you very rarely watch the mirrors.
“There’s limited LMP1 here, but there will be cars bearing down on us faster than you expect.
“It’ll be fun to blaze around the outside at the Porsche Curves again, but at the end of the day it’s multi-class racing.
“I will miss the closeness of the battle in GTE-Pro, but I just hope that we will be up there and have that closeness of battle in the LMP2 class.”