Andy Meyrick has reflected that he 'couldn't ask for a better place to be' as he gets to grips with the legendary 13.6km La Sarthe circuit ahead of this weekend's 78th edition of the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours round-the-clock classic, as he waxed lyrical about Oreca-Matmut and admitted he hopes to return to the race dubbed 'the toughest in the world' on many more occasions.
Meyrick is making his Le Mans debut in 2010, having competed in the Le Mans Series (LMS) with Kolles Audi last season and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with a Dyson Racing-run, Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 this – but the young up-and-coming British star is fast finding his feet in his new discipline having initially cut his teeth in single-seaters. The Le Mans 24 Hours, however, is another challenge altogether – as he is rapidly discovering.
“It's been really good,” he revealed, speaking to Crash.net
. “I'm really happy with how it's going. Obviously for my first time on the track the goal is to complete some night laps and my ten rookie laps – but the first few laps were a bit of a blur to be honest because of the speeds! There's just no circuit like it, being on full-throttle for that long.
“You do get used to it, though, and you just have to look for your reference points. You need to approach it and drive it slightly differently than you would a normal circuit, because you just can't remember the whole lap. Since getting used to it, it's been mentally challenging more than anything, not so much physical – it's about learning all the intricacies of the circuit and the car. There's no room for error [at Le Mans], and that makes it pretty daunting.
“I'm still a little bit off where I need to be and where I'm aiming aim to be, but as a car we're already more than 3.4 seconds quicker than the fastest time the team set last year. If I get the opportunity to push in the second qualifying session, I should be able to make even more gains and hopefully go quicker again.”
Meyrick is teaming up with old hands Soheil Ayari and Didier André for his Le Mans bow, and he paid tribute to his team-mates as well as the AIM-powered LMP1 class car the trio are campaigning and the Dunlop tyres, praising the British company for having 'exceeded everyone's expectations' in its battle with Michelin. What's more, with rain widely anticipated for second qualifying on Thursday evening and changeable conditions predicted for the race, the 24-year-old is now eagerly preparing to learn the circuit all over again.
“It will be good to collect some data and work on some settings in case there are wet periods during the race,” he reasoned. “We need to set the car up, make sure everybody is comfortable and get some laps in when it's wet. There's a large risk of aquaplaning when it rains here, with standing water even when the rain isn't that bad. At Tertre Rouge the road runs down quite a lot, so you can get a river developing there.
“There are all the different crests, camber and intricacies when the weather is changeable that only experience brings, but I have two really experienced team-mates helping me and a team that has been here many times – I couldn't ask for a better place to be in terms of being able to learn everything. It's just been phenomenal. This is Soheil's ninth Le Mans and Didier's eighth, so they have 17 Le Mans starts between them and I'm the baby of the group, but we've been walking the track every day and that has been really helpful.
“The other car has three fantastic drivers too, and for me to sit alongside Olivier Panis in a debrief and share experiences and impressions of the track with him is incredible. There's just a fantastic atmosphere between all the drivers in the team and the technical staff and the mechanics. It's very open and relaxed, and we're always pushing to go forwards. Oreca is a fantastic team to be working with, and the experience they bring – especially for a rookie – is immense.”