Le Mans: Marc Gene Confident of replacing Loic Duval After Huge Practice Crash
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The Audi reserve driver, who joins Tom Kristensen and Lucas Di Grassi in the #1 car, was not concerned at his late call-up, saying that the team had done all it could to have a reserve driver ready.
"There's nothing really of concern to me," he told AOL Cars as he prepared for Thursday's final two qualifying sessions.
The 2009 Le Mans winner has been part of the Audi team this year but this will be his first race for them. He has spent 2014 driving a Zytek-Nissan with Jota Sport in the LMP2 category. His promotion to the factory seat came after Duval suffered a huge crash during free practice on Wednesday when he lost control of the R18 at 169mph in the Porsche Curves.
The car was a wreck and it looked as though Duval could have been seriously injured. Fortunately, he only suffered a few scrapes but spent the night - the eve of his 32nd birthday - in hospital as a precaution. It led to the 11th hour call to his countryman who is confident he is prepared.
"We did everything we could to make sure I was acquainted as could be. There are always downsides, of course. At the end of the pre-test and the end of yesterday's driving I've only had four hours and tonight I will get an hour's maximum.
"But we did two tests when I got used to all the functionalities of the car at Paul Ricard and Arragon. The LMP2 thing is very good too, it helps me for sure. I feel more confident because I've raced the LMP2 at Spa. I know Audi did everything to have a reserve driver ready, I know the team, I know my team-mates. There's nothing more we could do.
"I'll never do Loic's job, he was more ready than me, of course, but I told Audi 'look, you couldn't have a better reserve driver' and I know that.
"It's not going to be easy though, we start on the back foot."
Gene said that qualifying would be left to Kristensen and Di Grassi but there would have to be some compromise to give him running time in the rebuilt R18.
"In the first session I'll get maybe one and a half stints - about 17 laps - and at night, well, we'll see how the daytime goes."
Each driver at Le Mans must set a qualifying time at night. That includes Gene's two co-drivers as their car was out before Wednesday's evening session began. But, he is in the fortunate position of already having completed his laps.
"I've already qualified with Jota, so we don't have to worry about that. I think the maximum I'll get before the race is 20-25 laps."