Q. You're in what is thought of as the junior Audi again, but is there enough experience in the #3 line-up to believe you can win the race?Alexandre Premat:
I am maybe more junior than them. It is my third participation at Le Mans but actually it's only my second because the first year I didn't drive because of Rocky [Mike Rockenfeller's crash]. So last year was my first real experience of Le Mans.
We are maybe thought of as the junior team again because I'm still there, but actually Timo [Bernhard] and Romain [Dumas] have a lot of experience in LMP2 with Porsche, and as soon as they jump in the R15 they were quick after five or 10 laps. For me, there is no doubt that they are really quick and for sure they are experienced enough.
Still we saw on Thursday that the more they were driving the more they were quicker, which is really good - especially as we had not so much time as in the previous years without the pre-test for the whole group to learn more the R15. I think it is a really good line-up for the race.Q. Did practice being held in the wet hinder you with no dry running, or help you get a feel for the car in changeable conditions?AP:
I think it's negative on one point because the two Porsche guys didn't drive enough in dry conditions. But it was a good point as well; it's an advantage to know how the car reacts in these conditions at Le Mans because maybe on Sunday morning there will be rain. So for sure it is good to be able to practice with the car in wet and dry conditions, but of course we would have liked to have had more time in the dry.Q. How is your feeling with the car so far, it didn't look like you went for any pure qualifying runs?AP:
The #1 and #2 showed that the car is really competitive and can be at the front. In our car we tried to test a lot of things with the tyres and the downforce. In the #2 they had some problems technically so they couldn't try too many things, so we did actually two programmes in our car.
In terms of laptimes, at the beginning when we resolved a small problem we had, I showed after 10 laps that we were one of quickest Audis on the track, which is really good. After that we never ran without fuel and with new tyres, so in the end the speed from our car from me, Timo and Romain was really good. I think for the race we will have a good pace.Q. Do you have an idea in your head where you will be on pace?AP:
It's difficult to say because the car is totally different when you have low fuel and new tyres. But if you look at the laps of [Marco] Werner, just before his run he had done only one or two laps on the track with used tyres and it was 3m31s. Then with low fuel and new tyres it was 3m25s and that was in traffic because a car blocked him, so for sure it could have been 3m22s.
It's a lot of calculations with the car changing a lot, but there is a big step forward. I cannot say how much it is, but in the race for sure we will be much closer to the Peugeots.Q. Do you think the R15's race pace will be similar to Peugeot's?AP:
I think, in the end, the pace from Audi and Peugeot is nearly the same. But we know that in the straight line they are much quicker than us, maybe six or seven kph, which is really bad for us because we need to push a little more the car in the corners - especially under braking.
After that, the stints of the tyres are important. We need to find how they [Peugeot] will work as well, whether they are doing two, three or four stints on each tyre. It will be a big thing because to change tyres takes 20 or 25 seconds now, then when you have to catch up 25 seconds on the track it is difficult.
We still have to know what we are doing and what they are doing exactly. To do four stints with the same tyres would be really nice, but maybe the performance from the car and the tyre will not be so well, so we have to be careful when we plan the strategy.
The tyres look really good for us, the car is stable under braking, very good into the corners. Ok, we have a little bit of understeer but the car feels really good everywhere and I think definitely that we are using less rubber than the Peugeot cars, so we feel that we can improve on them in this area. But this is the maybe only part that we can gain compared to them.Q. Does the rule change for tyre stops help Peugeot, giving them more time to make their driver changes?AP:
Yes of course it is hurting more us than the Peugeot because we have seen in the two years here that Peugeot was losing quite a lot in changing the drivers in the pitstops. For sure that was an advantage for us compared to them, but this is the rule now and we will do it like this. We will try to be quicker than them in the pitstops and we will do the maximum to be in front of them in the end.