David Heinemeier-Hansson, IT and endurance

David Heinemeier-Hansson, IT and endurance

Winner of the LM GTE Am class at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2014 with Aston Martin, David Heinemeier-Hanson is back in LM P2. Two years after a fantastic season with OAK Racing and its Morgan, this time he will be racing a Ligier for American team ESM.

Danish driver David Heinemeier-Hansson certainly seems to have taken the fast track to success since he moved into motor racing, after a fruitful career in IT. He was second in LM P2 in 2013 then, in 2014, victorious in LM GTE Am in both the 24 Hours and in the FIA World Endurance Championship. After OAK Racing in 2013 and Young Driver AMR last year, he’s back in 2015 driving for ESM. They are the only American team to have entered a prototype in the 2015 World Championship, and are also preparing for their first outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with two Ligier JS P2 powered by a Honda HPD engine.

How did you get the motor racing bug?
David Heinemeier-Hansson
: “I think it started when I was watching Le Mans in the early nineties. I didn’t know about motor racing, I was in Denmark, just switching between the public TV channels! (laughs) I saw the race and I said: "Wow, that's really cool!" I didn’t even have my driving license at that time, I got it only at 25 years of age. As soon as I knew there was a path to reach Le Mans, I wanted to learn it. I wanted to learn to drive fast enough to deserve my place on the Le Mans grid as quickly as I could. So I first sat in a racing car once I moved to the United States. 2015 is my fourth Le Mans start and I hope that there are many more to come."

What kind of connection do you see between your previous life in computer programming and the highest technologies of prototypes and GTs at Le Mans?
"This is very interesting because it is very similar. In computer programming, you have to change your algorithm to make things faster and you can measure it. For example if something takes 14 seconds, you take it down to 9 seconds. In motor sport, there is a lap time. You can measure it too and, most important, you can see how to improve. When I started I was much slower than I am now but what kept me going was thinking that I could close the gap between myself as an amateur and my professional co-drivers. It is very addictive because you can say: "Let's see if I can be a little bit faster!"

How different are the Morgan you drove two years ago and the 2015 Ligier JS P2?
"It is funny because it is only two years apart when I drove them but in terms of technology it looks like ten years apart! The Morgan was a fantastic car to drive, I am very happy to have the opportunity to drive that kind of open-cockpit prototype at Le Mans. We are going to a safer design with the closed cockpits. I could not be happier to be back in one of Jacques Nicolet's cars (Editor’s note: owner of OAK Racing and Onroak Automotive, who build the Ligier and Morgan chassis). I sampled a few other cars but I always came back to his prototypes."

After winning the LM GTE Am class at Le Mans and in the FIA WEC with Aston Martin in 2014, was it a primary goal for you to get back at the wheel of a prototype?
"Yes. First, you want to finish Le Mans. Second, you want to be on the podium, so you are becoming a little greedy. (laughs) Then when I stepped on the podium I wanted to win, and the best car for that is the LM P2. I love GTs but Tom Kristensen kind of set up the whole thing with prototype racing. To me, Le Mans is synonymous to prototypes. I have lived in America for ten years now, so having the opportunity to drive for a Danish team last year and for an American team this year suits me very well. I hope that ESM starts a long story and that I can be part of it."

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO       Translated from French by Clair Pickworth

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