Jack Aitken will take on the renowned 1000km of Paul Ricard this weekend for the second round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, with high hopes of a strong performance after clearly demonstrating his potential this season. And that’s just the beginning of the most intense fortnight of his career, as he then heads straight from Paul Ricard to Le Mans.
The 1000km of Paul Ricard generally lasts around six hours and is – with the exception of the season’s jewel in the crown, the Spa 24 Hours – the most demanding test of physical, mental and mechanical performance in the entire calendar.
Jack, and his Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini team-mates Albert Costa Balboa and Mirko Bortolotti, finished 13th in the opening round of the year at Imola, having been unlucky with a series of full course yellow periods.
This weekend’s race is the biggest test of endurance to date, with strategy and car balance equally crucial at the Le Castellet circuit. It’s also a true test of driving in varying levels of light, with an early evening start and a finish at around midnight. Straight-line speed and handling across the stints have proven key elements in determining the result throughout recent years, with Lamborghini enjoying a strong weekend in 2020 and 2021.
The weekend kicks off with free practice on Friday 3 June, starting at 14:20 CEST, with pre-qualifying taking place later on the same day at 19:20 CEST. Qualifying begins at 11:20 CEST on Saturday 4 June, with the race scheduled to start on Saturday evening at 18:00 CEST.
JACK ON… THE PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT
“It’s a track I know well and we as a team know well, so we’ll go there with a good deal of knowledge, having done the pre-season test at Paul Ricard as well. We got a decent baseline setup from the test but it’s going to be quite different this weekend in terms of track temperature, so we’ll just have to see how things play out in practice. Tyres in particular will be quite hard to manage: we struggled with graining other small issues during the test so we’ll see if that’s still an issue for us over the race weekend.”
JACK ON… STRATEGY IN THE RACE
“Strategy will be a big element in the race as it’s much longer than most, at six hours. Qualifying will also play a less important role because of the race length. You still want to be towards the front of the field to avoid any chaos behind and not put yourself in too many difficult positions, but you’ve got more time to work your way forward if you find yourself at the back. It’s probably going to be more of an attritional race too.”
JACK ON… HIS HECTIC WEEKEND
“I’m flying early on Sunday morning to go straight to Le Mans for the test day, so it’ll be quite a hectic day, especially finishing the race at midnight. I’m looking forward to discovering what Le Mans is all about and soaking the whole week up. It’ll be an amazing experience I’m sure and I can’t wait to get started. I want to take everything in but at the same time, I want to step back where I need to rest when it comes to the race weekend itself.”
Source. Jack Aitken