Switzerland’s Giorgio Maggi moves between different worlds. Within just a single week, he has competed on two continents in two different racing series and also in different classes. He has gone straight from the European Le Mans Series to its counterpart in Asia. The 18-year-old made his debut in the LMP2 class last weekend at the Zhuhai International Circuit. Maggi and team-mate Struan Moore went into the race as members of the Race Performance squad. A no-fault collision at the start and a technical failure towards the end frustrated a satisfactory outcome.
In free practice, you set the fastest time. You seem to have instantly adjusted to what is after all a new circuit for you…
That’s right, although the initial indications were not good. Just before the first free practice session, we noticed that something was wrong with the car. Despite that, we decided to give it a try, but without success. Because we needed to change the engine, we lost a lot of time, which is obviously vital on a new track. Consequently, I could only manage the second row in qualifying. Under the circumstances, that was a good result.
You’ve mentioned the circumstances. How difficult were the conditions during qualifying?
I would be lying if I said it was easy. It had started raining heavily, and since qualifying took place only towards evening, the light was beginning to fade. It wasn’t easy to set top times in these conditions, especially as both my team-mate and I are short of experience in an LMP2 car. I learned a lot in this session, and I’m sure it will work out better next time.
On Sunday, you had a smooth double stint. Even so, you didn’t finish the race. What happened there?
My team-mate started the race, and I went second. We both opted for a double stint. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the race there was a no-fault collision which sent us into the gravel bed. It took a long time to recover the car. Back in the garage, we had to replace the entire rear section. After me, Struan took over at the wheel again. Just before the end of the race, there was a technical failure and the car skidded off into the tyre wall. Fortunately, Struan came out of it unharmed. But sadly, that was the end of our race.
After a season spent in LMP3 cars, you’ve now switched to an LMP2 cockpit. What are the biggest differences for you?
The steering and the brakes are totally different. The steering of the LMP2 car is slightly lighter than I am used to. With the carbon brakes, it’s very important to keep them at the right temperature throughout the race. This is particularly difficult during safety car deployments. It’s incredible how late you can brake with them. There’s a slight delay before they really kick in. Overall, I’ve got used to the new car quite quickly and adapted my driving style accordingly.
The next ALMS weekend is at Fuji from 2nd to 4th December. That’s somewhere you haven’t been yet…
Correct. I’m especially looking forward to Fuji because I’ve never been to Japan before. So I’m all the more excited about the prospect of competing there. Fuji is often referred to as the high-speed temple of Japan. The track is indeed very fast and very much suits the LMP2 cars. It’s also a track which I expect to do well on. I’ll be spending some time in the simulator to prepare for this second ALMS race.