Q&A with Nigel Stepney…
JRM Racing conducted two days of testing at Aragon, Spain, on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 August as it prepares for its home race at Silverstone next week. After finishing sixth at Le Mans on its 24 hour racing debut, this test was crucial in keeping the momentum going as the team bids to take the lead of the FIA World Endurance Championship standings.
We caught up with team manager Nigel Stepney to get some details of the test and a look forward to the coming races.
You’ve just had two days of testing at Aragon, what was the aim of this test?
It’s been almost two months since the Le Mans 24 Hours and, although we’ve not exactly been idle, it’s a long time not to have been out racing and working together as a crew. The first morning was really about getting everyone – drivers and the mechanics – back up to speed. David and Peter had been to Aragon before, but it was new for Karun so he had a particularly steep learning curve.
How did the test go?
Really good actually. It was our first two day test with the car as we only got the car together in time for the Sebring race and then had one day of testing post Spa. It was very positive on the whole; we didn’t have any issues and were able to do a lot of running and get all the drivers in the car on both days. All three drivers went out in the car in the first part of the day on Tuesday to get back into the feel of it and then we built up from there. We did over 800km, with each driver getting some good time in the car. We looked at understanding the tyre behaviour at very high temperatures. Michelin brought along the medium development tyre, which will be introduced in Bahrain later this year. With a track temperature of over 50 deg C it’s a good warm up for this hot race – we won’t see conditions like this in Silverstone or Brazil!
It’s been a long time since Le Mans; what did the team do between two races?
The car was returned to our workshop in Rye the following week and almost immediately taken to a couple of media commitments, including the Sky F1 Show. It was then stripped back down and checked over before the parts were analysed thoroughly, cleaned and repaired where necessary. The build up to Le Mans was quite tough as we didn’t have a long time from the Spa race and then it was into the pre-Le Mans test and then the race week itself. Being such a new team – and new to the track – we had a long job list so after the race people also took the opportunity to take some time off. After we returned it was straight into the car build for the test here in Aragon, then the test itself. From here we return to our HQ and rebuild the car for Silverstone next week.
The team had a fantastic result at Le Mans – how difficult was it to achieve and what did it feel like to cross the line first time out?
Le Mans is one of the hardest races in the world so to finish is a massive achievement. Whether you’ve got ten years of experience or it’s your first time, getting to the end after 24 hours is a phenomenal feeling. However we’d had a really tough lead up to the event so the result was even more special. I felt really proud of the team and the drivers – it was a complete team effort.
Silverstone is just round the corner, what are your feelings on this?
It’s our home race and we’d all love to get a good result on home ground. All the same it’s a race we need to do well in. We are second in the standings now to Rebellion, only 24 points behind so we really need to close the gap. That’s the focus now.