How mechanics prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

How mechanics prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Drivers are often asked how they prepare physically for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Not to be outdone, let's learn how the mechanics do it from Panis Racing lead mechanic Louis-Marc Nauton-Fourteu.

As the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans approaches, what is the mindset of Panis Racing's mechanics?

We're getting ready to do battle because we know the LMP2 class is extremely competitive. The competition is fierce and we are very aware we will need to do our part in terms of pit stops. They can determine the outcome of the race. We are training and fully focused on giving it our all.

What is your training schedule?

We train several times a week and even per day depending upon the work at hand. We start preparing in the winter with plenty of repetition to create automation. That way, refuelings are more fluid and natural. To me, that's what makes the difference with other teams. This year we thought about solutions to help us gain time. We looked at details that make a difference. 

A wheel weighs 22 kg and a pneumatic gun 6 kg. How do you work on your physical fitness?

We have an athletics coach with us during the winter until the beginning of the season. Then our training helps us maintain our physical fitness. We work on our arms and back with the coach so we don't injure ourselves in certain positions during refuelings. We are also work on leg reflexes so that we can move very quickly.

(c) 21creation
(c) 21creation

What would you say are key words for mechanics working the 24 Hours of Le Mans?

I would say serenity, speed and methodology. Everyone in the team has their own qualities and we complement each other. What is counterintuitive is that we have to be fast and calm at the same time. If we are stressed before a refueling, we can lose our way. We also have to be as conscientious as possible.

The mechanics have a significant responsibility not to lose the precious seconds during refuelings that drivers have gained on the track. How do you do it?

When we lose time during a refueling, it bothers us tremendously because we know it's hard to make up on the track. We know we play a very important role. When things go wrong, we have to pull ourselves together quickly because if we let the stress take over and put added pressure on ourselves for the next pit stop, we are sure to make another mistake. It’s also highly motivating because we’re really part of the race.

Panis Racing is gearing up for its sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans. The French team will field the #65 ORECA 07-Gibson in the LMP2 class to be shared by Le Mans local Julien Canal, the Brit Will Stevens and Australian driver James Allen. Last year, the team owned by Olivier Panis and managed by Sarah and Simon Abadie finished third in LMP2.