Fantastic surroundings and a legendary race fixture, with Giorgio Maggi right in the middle of the action. On the weekend of 15th – 18th June, the 18-year-old competed in the Road to Le Mans race, held as part of the 24-hour event at Le Mans. He and his Race Performance co-driver Marcello Marateotto constituted the only purely Swiss team in the field of 37 cars. After starting from nineteenth on the grid, a minor error dropped their Ligier JS P3 down the field. At the start of Giorgio’s stint, the car was in 22nd position, but he then mounted a magnificent charge to finish in 13th.
Congratulations on your great recovery in the race. How satisfied are you with the outcome?
It was certainly a good performance. After the slight skid by my team-mate, I took over in P22 and eventually crossed the finish line in 13th place. Under the circumstances, that was certainly a decent result. But I can’t say that I am too happy, because as a racer I always want to be on the podium.
Despite this strong performance, it wasn’t an easy race for you. What exactly happened?
Unfortunately I was having problems with the brake balance right from the start. I tried a variety of things, but none of the adjustments really had the desired effect. On the first few laps, my rear wheels kept locking up, no matter what I did. So I went steady on the brakes, which will certainly have cost us some time.
How did you prepare for your stint in this particular race?
Last week, we spent a day testing at the Red Bull Ring. We tried different basic setups with low downforce. Also, I spent a lot of time on the simulator, memorising the layout of the track so that I would arrive here perfectly prepared. I didn’t want to spend too much time feeling my way into the race but rather to push right from the off.
What was it like driving on this circuit which is more than 13 kilometres in length?
It was the longest track I have ever competed on. I knew very well what to expect from the simulator. However, the actual track conditions are something else again. In the first session, unfortunately, we had technical problems, and the second free practice was red-flagged after only 30 minutes. So before the race itself, I had driven only four timed laps. Consequently, it wasn’t easy to judge the braking points with so little actual experience. If I’d been able to put in some more laps beforehand, I think I would have been better able to exploit my own potential and that of the car.
This was your first outing in the context of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. Were you impressed by the backdrop?
Absolutely! I really enjoyed being a spectator at the Nürburgring 24-hour race a couple of weeks ago and was thrilled by it all. However, this race and the whole atmosphere tops everything. The paddock with the huge hospitality suites, the garages and of course the amazing fans all around the track – a great experience. Because we have a sister team in the LMP2 category, I spent quite a bit of time in their garage and had the opportunity to make some acquaintances and to forge some new contacts. I hope I’ll be back again next year. Ideally, of course, as a starter in the 24-hour race.