24h Le Mans
Scrutineering is underway! A driver tells us what exactly the process involves.
Scrutineering began at 14:00 on Place de la République in central Le Mans. The first team to undergo the mandatory technical and administrative checks was Jackie Chan DC Racing (#37 and #38 Oreca 07s). We asked one of their drivers, Gabriel Aubry, what exactly goes on during Scrutineering.
First, tell us about yourself, Gabriel...
“Right, my name’s Gabriel Aubry and I’m 21. I was born on 3 April 1998 and I live on the outskirts of Paris. I’ve competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans once before as a driver, and before that I attended the race 12 times as a spectator. This year, I’m driving for Jackie Chan DC Racing in the #38, alongside Stéphane Richelmi and Ho Pin Tung. We’re currently second in the championship standings, four points behind Alpine, and we’re here to take the WEC title!”
Did you used to come to Scrutineering as a spectator?
"Not every year, but in the end I came to Scrutineering and then stayed for the whole week. I came to Scrutineering with Philippe Sinault, who I know well [Philippe Sinault is team principal at Signatech-Alpine]. I’d never been to the Drivers’ Parade though, so I experienced that for the first time last year. I thought I knew the race well, but experiencing it from the driver’s side is very different and I was often taken by surprise last year. I was floored by the event, there’s no other word for it. But it was a good experience and will help me this year, I think."
What do you mean, floored? By the crowds? The pressure?
"The pressure, the fact that even though “race weekend” lasts a whole week, it all goes by very quickly. There’s absolutely no down time between the second and third qualifying rounds, so if things start off badly, you have to knuckle down to work and do a good job. You mustn’t panic, which I probably did last year. The night was also completely new for me, the pitch black darkness. That was a real surprise. And then there’s the stress as you don’t want to damage the car, you have to be really careful. This is Le Mans: you can’t take any risks. In the end, if you’re too stressed, you can’t really show what you’re capable of."
This Sunday, you and your team are first up at Scrutineering. You’re thus opening Le Mans Race Week. Is that a special feeling?
"It’s pretty cool! We’re here on Sunday afternoon, there’s a big crowd, it’s not raining - yet! We really enjoy it, it’s part of what’s special about Le Mans. There’s a different atmosphere at each race, and it really kicks the festivities off. It’s what makes the race. I’m really pleased to be here."
You’ve just completed the administrative checks. What does that involve?
"Well... you have to show your underwear! [laughter] Yeah... you show your firesuit, pose for the official photographs, and show your licence. They make sure you are who you say you are before you can take the wheel! You’re checked at least a dozen times before you get in the cockpit. There’s no room for error! It’s also a great opportunity to meet the fans, so it’s not just about signing papers!"
PHOTO: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), PLACE DE LA REPUBLIQUE, 2019 SCRUTINEERING. The Oreca O7-Gibson LMP2s fielded by Jackie Chan DC Racing were the first to undergo the mandatory checks at the first 24 Hours of Le Mans Scrutineering session.