The crew of the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP217 attended Scrutineering in Le Mans town centre today on Monday June 11 in the middle of another torrential downpour that may have soaked the surroundings but did nothing to dampen the determination of the multi-national driving trio..
The line-up of American Mark Patterson, Dutchman Ate de Jong and Korean Tack Sung Kim, who are currently lying joint fifteenth in the 2018 European Le Mans Series LMP2 Teams Standings, are approaching the French classic very much remembering the old racing adage: “To finish first, first you have to finish” and are looking for a mistake-free run when the flag drops at 15:00 on Sunday June 16.
For Ate de Jong, 2018 will be his first entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, for him, the rise to the top of the endurance racing world has been rapid but not unexpected.
“I’m 50 years old and married with two kids,” said de Jong. “I have lived in Manila in the Philippines for ten years now and I left the Netherlands twenty years ago. I started racing in 2016 with the Asian Le Mans Sprint cup in LMP3 and then I did the Asian Le Mans Series in an LMP3. Last season I did LMP2 in the Asian Le Mans Series and then this year I’m doing the European Le Mans Series in LMP2.”
1988 Le Mans winner and fellow countryman Jan Lammers, who had appeared on the same stage just minutes before, heavily influenced De Jong as a young man.
“Jan Lammers was my idol when I was a little kid and I saw those Group C cars in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Then, of course, I already had the dream to go to Le Mans. I have achieved my dream within a certain time frame even though I’m 50. It’s amazing for me! It’s ‘magnifique!”
Although this is de Jong’s first entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this is not his first time on the Circuit de La Sarthe.
“Last year I did the ‘Road To Le Mans’ race in the LMP3 and I did around 20 to 30 laps but in an LMP2 it is a bit faster than LMP3. It’s an amazing circuit and it really suits me. I like the long straights and the Porsche Curves. It is, for me, the best circuit in the world.”
Team-mate Tak Sung Kim is proud that he will be the first Korean driver to start the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It was my dream since I was a kid watching the Steve McQueen movie; ‘Le Mans’,” said Kim. “I started racing in Asia in the Asian Le Mans Series and this year I’m racing in the European Le Mans Series. I’m very happy about this.”
“My target is to finish the race safely and don’t take any risks so that’s my first goal. Hopefully we can we have a good result. I don’t want to make any mistakes!”
Mark Patterson, competing in his sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans is also determined to finish the grueling race.
“This will be my sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans and I’ve finished all of the first five so, as Tak says, let’s make sure we finish this race.”
The lights go out for the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 15:00 on Saturday June 16.