Peugeot's Anthony Davidson hopes the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup can bring sports car racing to a much wider audience, having admitted that he had no idea how spectacular the discipline was until he dropped out of Formula 1.
LMP1 giants Audi and Peugeot last went head to head over a full season in the 2008 Le Mans Series, but both have now committed to the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's new ILMC, which combines top events from the LMS and American Le Mans Series, plus the Le Mans 24 Hours itself and an event in China, to create a season-long global contest. With both Peugeot and Audi introducing new cars this year, Davidson reckons an epic battle is in prospect.
"I just can't wait for this season to kick off because I think the likes of Peugeot and Audi fighting each other tooth and nail throughout the season is something to behold," he said. "It's what Formula 1's about as well – the manufacturers doing battle – and that's what we've got this season."
Davidson said he has been amazed by how much he has enjoyed LMP1 racing since it became his main focus.
"After leaving the world of F1 and joining the sports car scene, I suddenly realized it was like this secret of motorsport that no one has discovered," he asserted. "The cars are fantastic and the scene is brilliant. The fans that are dedicated to that scene already know, but just because it doesn't get the same kind of marketing behind it and the same kind of fanbase in pure numbers, it was a big surprise to me just what a brilliant scene the whole sports car world is. It's something that I think a driver after Formula 1 can look to do for many a year."
He said his only regret was that the ACO's 2011 rules will slightly restrict the performance of the LMP1s.
"The rules are the dominating factor in the design of the car these days," said Davidson. "With the restriction of the regulations for this year, they've been detuned not just power-wise but aero-wise as well. So all in all the cars are going to be a tiny bit slower – which is a real shame for drivers, because you always want to drive the fastest machine available."