Palou gearing up for first Le Mans run

For full-time IndyCar drivers, the stretch from April to July is punishing, with seven races on the calendar to get via, headlined by the sequence’ crown jewel occasion, the Indy 500.

However evidently’s not sufficient monitor time for a handful of them, together with defending champion Alex Palou. The Spaniard, together with Scott Dixon, Romain Grosjean, Nolan Siegel and Kyffin Simpson are squeezing per week at Le Mans into their packed schedule and traveled to France immediately after the XPEL Grand Prix at Highway America. Anybody on the lookout for proof that racing is an habit ought to look no additional…

For his Le Mans debut, Palou will drive the No. 2 Cadillac V-Collection.R with the GM model’s full-season WEC duo of Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn. 

Palou hasn’t shared a automobile with both of them prior to now, however he does have an present relationship with each to construct on. He first met them again on the 2022 Rolex 24 Hours after they have been sharing the No. 02 Cadillac Racing DPi-V.R and he was positioned within the No. 1 sister automobile. That connection could show important as they appear to construct chemistry as a unit quickly forward of this weekend’s race.

There will definitely be no time to loosen up, as he joins the crew at an important level for its 2024 marketing campaign. After being disqualified from Qatar, struggling for tempo at Imola and crashing out at Spa, the No. 2 crew are in dire want of a giant consequence if they’re to characteristic within the title combat later within the yr. 

And what higher place for a change in fortunes to happen than at Le Mans? It’s essentially the most prestigious race on the calendar and double factors are on provide. Sure, the sector is deeper than final yr in Hypercar, however after the V-Collection.R completed on the general podium final yr, expectations are set equally excessive 12 months on for the three-pronged Cadillac effort.

Whereas Bamber and Lynn will hope that Palou serves as a fortunate appeal on Sunday, they’ll even be hoping that he will get in control quickly on Wednesday and Thursday. With no earlier WEC race expertise to attract from, and just one IMSA race begin in Cadillac’s present prototype below his belt, Palou is in determined want of seat time.

From the second the pit lane opens in Free Follow 1, managing his schedule might be key. The staff wants to make sure he’s given ample time to study the circuit and get a really feel for a way WEC races are regulated and managed by race management.

“I’m going to get further time as a result of I haven’t pushed a Cadillac since January and skipped the take a look at,” the two-time IndyCar champion informed RACER. 

“However it’s not loopy, they are going to be open to giving me the time I want, however I have to ensure that Alex and Earl are ready for Qualifying and Hyperpole too.

“This case just isn’t best, however I reckon I’ll get loads of laps.”

Palou joins the No2 staff at a time when it badly wants an excellent consequence to maintain its title hopes heading in the right direction. JEP/Motorsport Photos

Fortunately, earlier than Palou arrived at La Sarthe, Bamber and Lynn loved a extremely productive take a look at day, the place they racked up loads of miles and labored on a base set-up. The onerous work final Sunday, Bamber defined, will allow the staff to position ample give attention to getting Palou as snug as potential.

“We have been pleased with the take a look at day and the automobile stability felt good,” he mentioned. “Now it’s in a ok spot that we are able to hand the vast majority of the operating over to Alex within the apply classes to assist him put together for the race. 

“We’re happier as a staff than final yr, we’re higher ready and really feel like we are able to go racing tomorrow. We aren’t scrambling round in any respect.

“It provides us area to move on as a lot data as can to him. We’ll attempt to faculty him up as a lot as we are able to, however he might want to study a few of it for himself along with his personal expertise.”

Palou’s earlier outings on the Rolex 24 stand him in good stead. Each instances he was spectacular and took it severely, demonstrating a capability to adapt to new environment shortly and hit extract efficiency from a automobile with restricted monitor time.

There is no such thing as a signal that his strategy this week might be any totally different. He’s keen to depart a mark on one other occasion he’s had his eye on for a very long time.

“I’m so excited to be at Le Mans,” he mentioned. “It is a uncommon occasion that’s near dwelling, it’s like seven hours away. It’s a lot nearer to dwelling than after I race within the U.S.

“I at all times push for stuff I would like, and this was an occasion I’ve at all times wished to do if I may match it in. Daytona provides you a style of a 24-hour race, however it is a larger occasion with extra producers. 

“I’ve been following Le Mans for a very long time and knew about it earlier than the Indy 500. The great factor for me is that the staff is similar, they usually know me, they know I might be 200 p.c targeted. We’re not right here for enjoyable, we are attempting to win it.

“IndyCar is my primary precedence. However this pushes me to attempt to study extra, enhance and push in IndyCar. And I hopefully it’s not a one-off. I need to do extra endurance races. Hopefully beginning now and for a very long time.”

Story originally appeared on Racer

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