Audi Sport Team Joest driver Loïc Duval is set for this weekend’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, which he believes is a key dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Frenchman will share the #8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro that he and team-mates Oliver Jarvis and Lucas di Grassi took to a fifth place finish at the 6 Hours of Silverstone in mid April. The #8 car will join the #7 in sporting Audi’s low-downforce, Le Mans style aerodynamic set-up in preparation for the 24 hour race in June, while the #9 ‘third’ car will run the traditional high-downforce setting as seen at Silverstone.
“Spa is a dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Duval. “So our primary goal is to fine-tune everything for that. Le Mans is definitely on everyone’s mind and some cars are already sporting low downforce in preparation for the Circuit de la Sarthe. At Silverstone, Lucas, Olly and I didn’t secure the ideal result, but we still got 10 points, which is easier to recover from than no score at all.”
Like his team-mates Duval is familiar with the 4.35 mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit. He has finished on the podium at the FIA WEC event three years in a row, with a victory in 2012.
“It’s a long, winding track with fast, sweeping corners as well as a fascinating history,” he said. “I really like the circuit and have been pretty successful on it over the past three seasons. I have fond memories from the event and will definitely do my best to keep the momentum up. As ever, we’ll have to keep an eye on the weather, which is always a tricky factor at Spa.”
Despite the clear performance boost of the 2015-spec Audi over its 2014 predecessor following victory for the #7 car at Silverstone, Duval is remaining meditative ahead of his team’s earlier than expected low-downforce race debut.
“What really matters is that the Audi was very competitive [at Silverstone]. The race just goes to show how much work the team has done over the winter to give us a great car, and that the potential is definitely there.”
“That said Silverstone is a circuit that usually suits us so we shouldn’t assume that we’d be stronger than Porsche and Toyota everywhere else. Spa should give us a good idea of how everyone fares using their Le Mans configuration, which is a bit of a question mark at the moment.”
The 2015 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps gets underway this Saturday (May 2) at 13:30 GMT.