« It’s very frustrating to finish second, so close… »
For his debut in the premier Endurance category, Louis Delétraz overcame the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at the 2e square. A more than respectable performance for the 25-year-old Swiss who shared the wheel of the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-06 alongside Ricky Taylor, Brendon Hartley and Filipe Albuquerque…
Louis, what do you think of your race?
“It’s quite fantastic and I really enjoyed it. By completing 2e, we are the first losers. For Acura, it’s incredible to open the era of GTPs and to dominate with a double after 24 hours of racing, with so many uncertainties. I say a big congratulations to them. If we had been told that on Saturday morning or Saturday evening, we would not have believed it. Personally, I think I had a good race, but especially with the whole Wayne Taylor team, we fought hard even if we had some problems during the night. When I was in the car, after three laps we had to go back to the garage, but we fought really hard and came back on the same lap as the leaders. Filipe made a fantastic end of the race and we only finished 4 seconds behind. There is not much to regret on the human and sporting level. »
You smile, but can you imagine the disappointment of finishing so close to victory?
“It’s very frustrating to finish second so close. It’s a luxury issue compared to our competitors who had a much worse race than ours. If someone had told me that six months ago that I would be in a factory car, with Acura, and fighting for the overall win at Daytona, I wouldn’t have believed it. We are second and first losers at only 3 seconds, we did not receive the watch (laughs), but we deserved just as much. This gives Acura a double, that’s the most important thing. »
In terms of reliability, despite these few problems, it’s a nice surprise to see the two Acura performing well over time, and what’s more, without having carried out endurance tests beforehand?
“It’s true that we are the only ones not to have done an endurance test, but we put miles into the parts, shall we say. We had many, many doubts. We have some problems with the oil, as we had to refill it and it took us some time, but nothing major. Honestly, to start 24 hours of racing in a championship like that is very hard. BMW and Porsche have had issues, so for a brand like Acura to do things this well is really impressive. »
You distinguished yourself during the night with some great stints and great passes on the track, especially to take the lead in the race. Is it a personal pride to be able to play at this level?
“There were also a lot of new things for me and I drove very little in this car, because the development is done with several drivers and there are few laps. My first real stints were here, in the race. For my first time in the race car, I did a quadruple stint. At the end I was 4e, I took the lead in the race and we led for almost an hour. I had a lot of fun, fighting against Porsche, taking the lead on the outside thanks to an overtaking on Braun on the outside at International Horseshoe, it was quite nice. »
Despite this promising double, is there still work to be done by Sebring?
“I think there are a lot yes. We have a very good base, a healthy base and personally, when I’m behind the wheel, I smile and that’s the most important thing. I have the chance to drive a very good car, in a very good team, with three high-level teammates who have won almost everything already. I can say a big thank you to them, because for me it was a great honor to share this car with them and I learn every day. That they make me feel confident by letting me ride the longest is something I really appreciate. »
Looking back on your race, what could you have done better?
“What you need to know is that Wayne Taylor Racing, who practically did all the development, while Meyer Shank received it later. We didn’t have a lot of time for all the procedural stuff and to test everything with this car so we made some strategic mistakes. We took for example twice the red light at the end of the pit lane, but apart from that sincerely, all the worries were solved in an efficient way. For me, it’s all new but I’m happy to be in such a strong team. »
What aspect was the most complicated to manage with this hybrid-powered car?
“The hybrid system is complicated in itself, but relatively simple to manage in the car, because there is no button to deploy the resources, it’s automatic with the gas pedal. Everything is behind, in the systems of Acura and HPD who decide how it works. However, having to do double stints with the tyres, which we haven’t done before, having driven very little in the car and then the fact that this is my first 24 hours in the premier GTP class, there was a lot of stress too. It’s not for me to judge, but I think I performed well too. »