In recent years Denmark has developed a healthy reputation as a reliable export of world class endurance racing talent. The records set by the likes of Tom Kristensen and Jan Magnussen on the global stage have helped to inspire a new era of stars that are succeeding at the highest levels of the sport.
One such star is Mikkel Mac, who currently leads the European Le Mans Series LMGTE standings with his Formula Racing team-mates Johnny Laursen and Andrea Rizzoli. Having raced last year in the GTC category, 22-year old Mac is rapidly raising his stock on the continental scene, and is currently on the cusp of breaking through as Denmark’s next international champion.
“Heroes like Tom Kristensen and Jan Magnussen have undoubtedly done a lot to turn the Danish people into heart beating Le Mans fans,” Mac told thecheckeredflag.co.uk.
“I always wanted to be Tom or Jan, and today I am proud that I have had Jan in particular as my team-mate in both the Danish Thundersport Championship and the European Le Mans Series in 2014. Jan has told me so many fascinating stories about Le Mans, so I would be so proud of myself and the whole team if we managed to win the championship and get the Le Mans entry. Driving the 24 hours of Le Mans has been a dream for me since I was a karting driver and I would always watch the race on TV with my father.”
Mac is quite possibly in the ideal position for a GT driver of his age. Victory in the LMGTE class would guarantee himself and his Formula Racing team-mates an automatic entry to the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – an event that the Danish squad was listed for as a reserve this year. This means that Mac is only two races away from joining the biggest names of the endurance racing elite after only his second year of ELMS competition. Despite the slim five point advantage that exists between Formula Racing and the #55 AF Corse crew at the sharp end of the championship standings, Mac believes that his team’s positive mentality can help bring the title home and turn that dream start at La Sarthe into a reality.
“Last year we experienced how one single bad weekend can have a fatal impact on the championship. Now we focus on one race, and after that comes the next. I don’t feel more pressure now than after the first round. We are leading the championship because we have done a good job, and if we continue doing what we did at the Red Bull Ring, I cannot see why we shouldn’t be able to win again at Paul Ricard.”
Victory at the Red Bull Ring (third round of the ELMS) was a just reward for Formula Racing after a testing first two races at Silverstone and Imola that heralded sixth and third place finishes. A late, late move by Mac on AF Corse’s Matt Griffin on the final lap in Austria handed Formula Racing the win and, crucially, the advantage in the points standings. However, there was more to the team’s result than Mac’s late-braking heroics, as he explains:
“Admittedly, at Silverstone we were not prepared enough, but I believe our preparation for the latest two rounds has been excellent. Teamwork is so important in this game. We don’t look at it as a car with one bronze driver, one silver and one gold. We are one ambitious team with drivers, mechanics and engineers working as one unit and in the same direction. Everyone is doing their absolute best and we have a lot of respect for each other. I think that’s the key to our success.”
In addition to his racing commitments, Mac has also been actively involved in charity work for the children’s ward of Rigshospitalet medical centre in Copenhagen. Last month he took part in the annual historic Grand Prix on the streets of the Danish capital, offering paid passenger rides in a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to contribute to the £58,000 total.
“That was a great weekend! I really enjoyed that event,” he said. “It really touches you when you can give people this kind of thrilling experience, which the will never forget, while you also are doing something even better for others. I was proud of being one of the stars at this year’s event and I’m crossing my fingers that I will be invited next year.”
With the summer break drawing to a close, Mac’s attention turns back to the business of the ELMS championship. His driving continues to improve significantly year after year – as indicated by his promotion from silver to gold driver status – and now he plays an integral role in Formula Racing’s quest for a maiden championship crown.
“I think I have done a pretty good job so far. I have developed through the season, more than I had hoped, and I am very satisfied that I have succeeded to get to grips with the new car so quickly – and that I have been able to compete with the best drivers in the series.”
“I enjoy every second I’m sitting in a race car. I really enjoy these long distance races where you have to be good at many other things than being a fast driver. It’s about teamwork, strategy and trying to push not only yourself but also your team mates.”
“My focus is to continue this development of my skills, my performance and my person (in the team) – and hopefully to be ready for Le Mans next year.”
Mikkel Mac will continue his and his team’s European Le Mans Series campaign with the penultimate round at Paul Ricard on September 5-6.