Kamui is back! The real Kamui, the one that made the heyday of Toyota – already – and Sauber in F1, not the miserable one in the cockpit of a GT. “I had to let the faster prototypes overtake me. Now, it’s the opposite!” explains Kamui. After leaving F1, his rendez-vous with GTE under the auspices of Ferrari was simply unsuccessful. He wasn’t ready, and was nurturing other ambitions. What he wanted was to experience once again the joys of a hyper-performing race car, and the work of a factory team.
“I love driving but also everything to do with development, and only two championships offer that: F1 and the WEC! I would even go so far as to say from that point of view, it’s even more exciting in Sport-Prototypes because we also assist in tyre development. Also, there is a little something extra in this championship that makes you happy. It’s like we are all collaborating in something that will grow and become huge. I think the popularity and legend of Le Mans have a lot to do with it!”
Now that he is competing with the Toyota outfit, Kobayashi see the world of endurance in a whole other light. “There is no way to pace oneself by a random rhythm in the race. You just have to attack…and that’s my thing!”
It’s something he shares with the members of the Toyota outfit to whom he owes his debut in F1 back in 2009. “It’s all the more fun to rejoin the guys who are just as hungry. We parted ways after a sixth place finish at Abu Dhabi for the last GP of the season, and had no idea it would be so long before we were together again,” seven years actually.
“It’s stunning because I am the last driver in, but it’s like I’ve always been here. A lot of people were already here in 2009, starting with Pascal Vasselon. It’s a great pleasure to work once again with a technical director of this caliber!”
A technical director who doesn’t disappoint him and from whom he expects a great deal: “A team obviously doesn’t come down to one person, but Pascal is an important link. He’s where the impetus comes from.”
On Saturday, during the preliminary day that is so important toward the rest of the Le Mans adventure, Kamui will pay attention to his technical director’s directives because he certainly doesn’t want to mess up his first 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of an LM P1 capable of winning!
“It will be hard, but anything is possible in motorsports. If we are capable of taking as big a step as we did between Silverstone and Spa, it’s on. For me, a win at Le Mans would be gigantic. In Japan, for motorsports fans, Le Mans is as revered as Mount Fuji.”
J.-Michel Desnoues - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO
PHOTO: STAVELOT (LIEGE PROVINCE, BELGIUM), SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS CIRCUIT, FIA WEC, WEC 6 HOURS OF SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS. With Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway, Kamui is ready to move mountains!