This year is definitely a step in the right direction. Last season LMEM, on behalf of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, took over the organisation of the European Le Mans Series and set in place a series of changes that resulted in teams and drivers deciding that they wanted to race in the ELMS. The increase in the size of the grids showed we were going in the right direction.
Towards the end of the year we talked to the teams about the 2013 season, what worked and what didn’t, and a number of changes were made before the start of the 2014 season, including longer races and more track time. This has resulted in a further boost to the size of the grid, with over 40 full season entries.
We have some of the best teams in Europe racing in the ELMS and the presentation of the paddock is very professional. We still have some way to go but we are definitely on the right track to make the ELMS the best continental race series in the world.
Are you pleased that the ELMS teams finished well at the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
The 24 Heures du Mans is the pinnacle of endurance racing and for ELMS teams to go up against the best in the world and win is a tremendous achievement and is something that will make other teams and drivers look at the ELMS in the future.
You have to remember that the overall winners in the ELMS receive an automatic entry for the next 24 Hours of Le Mans and while it is not part of the ELMS calendar, Le Mans is something that every driver and team dream about winning.
Our congratulations go to JOTA Sport for the LMP2 victory and also to TDS by Thiriet Racing and Signatech Alpine for making it a 1-2-3 finish for ELMS teams in LMP2, something we are very proud of.
We are heading the Austria next. There have been some changes to the facilities at the Red Bull Ring because of the visit by Formula One a few weeks ago. What difference do you think this will make to the ELMS event?
The Red Bull Ring is an impressive facility set in a beautiful location in Austria. The track remains as challenging as it was in 2013 and the new facilities will certainly add something to our event next weekend. Many of our drivers choose to race in the European Le Mans Series because of the tracks we visit. ELMS now boasts two current Formula One circuits on its calendar and all five tracks each present a unique challenge which will test both drivers and cars.
After Austria the ELMS will race at Paul Ricard and then at Estoril. What are your thoughts on those events?
The teams all know the Circuit Paul Ricard after the official test in April. The circuit is ideally suited to endurance racing and I am confident that the race in September will be as exciting as the race was in 2013.
Last year Paul Ricard hosted the season finale, while this year we still have the event in Portugal a few weeks later.
The 4 Hours of Estoril will provide the perfect backdrop for the end of season party, with the local promoter working hard to attract a good crowd with plenty of entertainment. Estoril is a very special circuit and like the other four tracks on the calendar will have its own unique challenges to test the competitors to the maximum. The second half of the 2014 season is certainly not going to be boring!
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