The 24 Hours of Le Mans is only the second race for the #38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche 963 after debuting in the 6 Hours of Spa, the third round of the 2023 FIA WEC season, with a 6th-place finish. arrival for the trio consisting of Yifei Ye, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Will Stevens.
At the age of 22, the Chinese driver, who was the first driver announced in the program last November, will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second consecutive year; the first in the queen category. Yifei Ye confided in Endurance24 during the Weigh-in.
How are you approaching this race?
“Frankly, at Spa, we did not expect to have such a smooth race, without problems. It’s a really good sign that we were able to finish sixth and also with the best race lap of all the Porsches. And then, we had the opportunity to test well at Le Castellet, two weeks ago, when we really got to know the car, all the control options on the steering wheel. The engineers also know what we can potentially change on the steering wheel, if we ever have to change something to adjust the balance. So, overall, I think we’re ready. And the Centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with all the big manufacturers, it’s going to be a race for the fans, of course, but for the drivers too. But hey, the goal is first of all to finish the race. Fortunately, Porsche has already carried out several endurance tests. So they know which part of the car to pay attention to during the race. I think in terms of performance, we’re in the game. I’m really looking forward to starting my first stints during the race. »
Tell us about your tests at Le Castellet, between Spa and Le Mans…
« Already, there are things in the cockpit that we didn’t really like, but there wasn’t really time to do that at Spa, since the goal was to finish the race, to take advantage of every possible minute during the tests. But there are a lot of things we’ve done for the driver’s comfort, because in an endurance race, especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans, you have to be one with the car. So, we did a lot of things on the seats, also to have the ultraviolet light in order to be able to see all the buttons on the car. As a driver, there are a lot of tools on the steering wheel, you can change the differential, the front and rear anti-roll bar in real time. The suspension too. There are many things a pilot can adjust. A smart driver can make the difference. All these controls, we had the opportunity to try them. For the engineers, it’s really trying to set the car up for Sunday, there are plenty of straights, you have to have the aero in the right window and also control tire degradation, since you’re limited with the trains that can be used during the race. During the night, we aim to do maybe three or four stints in a row. So that was really helpful. »
Given the lack of experience with the car, will each hour on track, from Sunday on the occasion of the Test Day, be important?
» Absolutely. We would have liked to have had more test days before coming tomorrow, but I think that we already have a good knowledge of the car and first of all you have to feel comfortable and confident with the car. That’s what we’re going to do on Sunday. And then, work on the settings and work on the qualifying and race simulation. We hope not to have too many problems, but I think it will not be easy. »