16 Jun 2017

What it takes to drive at Le Mans

Hours of sauna-like heat, cornering g-forces akin to riding a roller coaster for three hours and knowing that one false move could spell disaster.

This is what the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing drivers will be facing during their stints in the cockpit of our Ford GT at the world-famous Le Mans 24 Hours race this weekend.

Like any elite sportsperson, this means training is essential. Bespoke physical workouts strengthen neck, arms and core, and improve cardiovascular fitness and hand-eye coordination.

They also have to train for unique challenges.

Before the Shanghai round of the World Endurance Championship last year, Ford drivers Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx had never driven the circuit.

They used a race car simulator, which replicates real circuits, gives real feedback through the steering wheel and can be paused and rewound to concentrate on particularly tricky sections, while the driver is monitored.

They not only learned the Shanghai track, but also fine-tuned their skills and – went on to win the real thing.

Driver fitness while racing is monitored too, with special systems checking heart and breathing rates, body temperatures and glucose levels, allowing the team to address any issues during pitstops and send the drivers back out at their physical and mental peak.

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