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Vandoorne ‘As Prepared as I Could Be’ for Le Mans Debut

Stoffel Vandoorne feeling prepared for Le Mans, enjoying learning the track…

Photo: SMP Racing

Stoffel Vandoorne says he’s as prepared as much as he could be for his debut 24 Hours of Le Mans after a successful run with SMP Racing at the test day.

The former McLaren Formula 1 driver joined the Russian squad to replace Jenson Button for Le Mans and last month’s Six Hours of Spa.

His first experience of the Circuit de la Sarthe came on test day last weekend, when he set the outright speed trap record at 350.1 km/h (217.5 mph) at the wheel of his BR Engineering BR1 AER.

“[Test day] went pretty well to be honest,” he told Sportscar365. “It was nice to get back in the car and straightaway I had a pretty good feeling with it.

“I got up to speed with the circuit reasonably quickly, so that was a positive. It’s not easy as there’s so many little things around the circuit that can catch you out.

“I did my homework well before the test day to figure out where and where not to go with the car and it helped me a lot to get up to speed.

“I think it will be a different story this week, with the complete race week, where we have night sessions and trying to maximize everything with traffic.

“It will change the situation a little bit but I can only do as much. I feel like I’m prepared as much as I could be in the circumstances so I’m looking forward to it.”

Vandoorne, who is running these two WEC races alongside his full-season ABB FIA Formula E Championship drive with HWA Racelab, says he’s enjoyed getting to grips with the Le Mans circuit in a car that produces a considerable amount of downforce.

“The Porsche Curves are a challenging portion of the track,” he said.

“They’re the nicest, in terms of feeling in the car because they’re high-speed, the car feels a little bit light with the low downforce as well. It’s nice.

“It’s a unique section of track for sure but after Formula E, it’s something different, to feel downforce again.

“As much as I like Formula E, it’s just different sensations in the car. In the end I’m very happy to have a combination of both.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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