Montoya says he has "no pressure" on Le Mans debut

Ex-Formula 1 and IndyCar ace Juan Pablo Montoya says he has "no pressure" to do well on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut next week with the United Autosports LMP2 team.

Montoya says he has "no pressure" on Le Mans debut
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen, Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen, Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen, Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Juan Pablo Montoya
#32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson: Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen, Juan Pablo Montoya

During last weekend's official test day, Montoya posted the 14th-best LMP2 time in the #32 Ligier JS P217-Gibson he'll share with Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer for the La Sarthe classic on June 16/17.

It put him 5.135s off the best time in class set by Nathanael Berthon in the DragonSpeed Oreca, although Filipe Albuquerque in the sister #22 United Ligier was only 2s off the pace.

While Montoya believes there is more speed to come, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner emphasised that he is racing at Le Mans primarily for enjoyment, not necessarily to win.

Asked if he was satisfied with his pace during the test day and the gap to the Oreca cars, he replied: "Yes and no.

"I think the gap is smaller than what it was last year, a lot smaller, [although] I think the gap is still a little bit there. But you don’t know what fuel level everybody is. I think there’s a lot of lap time there.

"For me the opportunity came, I thought it would be cool to come and enjoy, live it. There’s really no pressure. If we get a good result, great. If we didn’t, it’s okay too."

Flashback: Mario Andretti at Le Mans in 1995

Montoya contrasted his situation to that of ex-F1 rival Fernando Alonso, who will be gunning for outright victory with the Toyota LMP1 squad.

"The position that Fernando is in, if he doesn’t win he’s an idiot," the Colombian added. "If you finish second it means your teammates just beat you. They are so far ahead from the other cars.

"He’s in a great position, but it’s a different position that I’m in and it’s okay. I'm happy where I am."

The 42-year-old also said he was "really surprised" by the quality of the United Autosports team, whose main programmes are in the European Le Mans Series and the North American Endurance Cup element of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

"They have really good guys, good mechanics," Montoya said. "The engineering is very different from what I was expecting but I knew what I was coming into.

"It's very different because most of the engineers come from the factory of the cars, from Ligier. I’m more used to working with an engineer from the team.

"I’m very outspoken so if I don’t like it I’ll let them know. I don’t mean it in a bad way, I just want to have a better car."

Additional reporting by Filip Cleeren and Gary Watkins

shares
comments
Button: SMP aiming to challenge Rebellion at Le Mans

Previous article

Button: SMP aiming to challenge Rebellion at Le Mans

Next article

The gear change that nearly cost Jaguar a Le Mans win

The gear change that nearly cost Jaguar a Le Mans win
Load comments
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Prime

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year.

WEC
Jul 24, 2021
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Prime

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness.

Le Mans
Jun 23, 2021
How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans Prime

How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans

It's one of the great what-if stories in Le Mans history. Paul Newman finished second in the 24 Hours in 1979, but it could easily have been a famous victory were it not for the resourcefulness of the late Manfred Kremer.

Le Mans
Apr 13, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021