Scott Dixon is competing again this year with Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA in car number 69, when the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be started in a few hours time.
The IndyCar star was close at having to give up his seat, after he got a fracture on his ankle in a violent crash during the Indy 500 race three weeks ago. But now he’s ready and fit enough to drive the race.
“It’s gonna be a while, probably four weeks before it’s back to 100%. So actually I’ve been right-foot braking in this car now.”
He did the race for the first time last year, so how is it to be back – is it just as exciting?
“It’s different. As a rookie, you come in and you don’t know what to expect, so that’s positive, too, right? You don’t know what’s right or wrong. In a way, you just kind of walk around really excited. Now you are sure of a little more – a bit more relaxed. And you know what to expect, too. So it goes two different ways. But yeah, it’s obviously nice to know where the track goes, to know where the restrooms are, and the toilets, and where you cabins are and things like that. So it’s nice to come back. Last year I enjoyed myself so much – it was so much fun. Even through Indy, I was looking forward to come back here.”
Scott Dixon has the former Le Mans winner Stefan Johansson as manager, so have those two spoken about the event, too?
“We are very tight anyway. We have been together since 1999, so we see each other a lot. So I’ve spoken to him many times, especially last year – on my debut coming here, coming to Le Mans for the first time. Even Chip – he raced here in the 80’s, so it’s fun. And the stories from this place are legendary. For me, the biggest story was being part of Ford coming back. And after Amon and McLaren won – that was pretty special. I’m very fortunate to be a part of the programme.”
Regarding excitement about racing, one of the most intense experiences in motorsport for a driver, is going around the Indianapolis track for the 4-laps qualifying. So does it make everything else boring after that?
“It’s ehhh – no, nothing is boring. To get to this stage on time, is maximum effort, no matter where you are. And I think, circuits like this is very demanding, too. It’s very demanding, because you’ve got such a long lap. You have to learn to compromise. Because typically on the shorter track, if you mess up a little on one corner, you just wait to do the lap again. Here you don’t really get that option, because it’s so long.
“The worst thing is when you mess up the first corner or second corner – then you are like aargh!!! Then you got like three and a half or four minutes before you can do it again. I love this place. It’s very hard to get a lap right. You know, and the traffic, and the qualifying format. It’s the only place on earth where you sit around for most of the day, and you run at night, so it’s weird. Even with staying at the cabins up here, myself and Tony and Rubens last night, were sitting around and talking, and I was like – It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, we better go to bed. So it’s cool. Every car and every track as it’s own little things to get the most out of it.”
Scott Dixon isn’t running any kind of heart monitor, but just from his own impression, he knows where it probably is the highest bpm.
“I imagine that Indianapolis (the circuit, editor), the four laps, it’s pretty high, because you are so amped up. But then the street courses are tough physically like Detroit or St. Pete – they are really tough. You get no rest.”
Dixon is feeling well prepared for the race, after running in various conditions last year – a skill that isn’t needed this year.
“I did a couple of laps in the rain in the practice. In the race, I was third in schedule, so no, it’s really only. Richard got the rain at the start and then Ryan had a little bit on his second stint. So it’s great to see that it’s hot, really hot. Europe doesn’t do well with AC,” he says with a big laugh, with the interview being done in the scorching temperatures inside their team hospitality with only two small AC units not able to keep up with the beating sun.
“Last year was nice once it stopped raining. There was a lot of rain obviously during the week, too, so yeah, it’s nice not to have the rain. I imagine that a race here, when it rains a lot, will be very very difficult, very tough.”