Tatiana Calderón is facing one of the biggest challenges of her career so far as she gears up to take on the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race this weekend. The Colombian driver will be one of three drivers representing the Richard Mille Racing squad in the 24-car LMP2 class, which features the largest and arguably the most competitive grid of the four categories competing in the French endurance classic.
Tatiana will share Richard Mille’s Signatech-operated Oreca 07-Gibson with Beitske Visser, with whom she already raced in August’s Spa round of the European Le Mans Series, and Sophia Floersch in the first all-female line-up in a prototype at Le Mans since 1991.
Visser stands in for Katherine Legge, who was unfortunately injured in a pre-season testing crash at Paul Ricard and has not recovered sufficiently to race this weekend.
Tatiana goes into her first Le Mans start with two LMP2 starts under her belt in the European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard and Spa, securing top-six finishes at both tracks, although she knows that the unique demands of the semi-permanent, 13.6km Circuit de la Sarthe will be very different to anything she has encountered so far.
“I’m very excited to finally get to make my Le Mans debut. Of course, we were supposed to race in June, and instead we had the 24-hour virtual race which helped me to prepare as much as possible. It’s going to be a very unusual edition because the whole weekend format will be condensed, with no fans and no drivers’ parade, but it’s still a race you always dream of doing and I think we have a great chance with the Richard Mille Racing team and the help of Signatech, which has won the LMP2 class at Le Mans three times. We are a driver line-up of rookies, so it will be a huge challenge to adapt, especially as the first day of track action on Thursday we’ll have qualifying. That said, the two ELMS races I’ve done so far this year in Paul Ricard at Spa have been great preparation and the team did an amazing job, although driving at night and in cooler temperatures will be something else to adapt to. There is a lot to learn, but I am looking forward to it. Also, we will miss Katherine this weekend and we hope she recovers fast,” said Tatiana.
This year’s Le Mans will also present a bigger challenge than usual even for experienced drivers, as it takes place in September instead of June owing to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – meaning fewer hours of daylight and cooler temperatures than normal.
In addition, the lack of spectators will give the event a different look and feel to previous years, but this won’t detract from Tatiana’s enthusiasm as she takes on the challenge of Le Mans for the first time and contributes to another page of motorsport history.
In her second appearance for the Richard Mille Racing team at the second round of the European Le Mans Series at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Tatiana and her teammates – Andre Negrao and newcomer Beitske Visser – finished sixth after a smooth run over the course the four-hour race at the wheel of the #50 Oreca LMP2 car.
It comes after Tatiana and Negrao finished fifth in the season opener at Paul Ricard last month, putting the Signatech-run Richard Mille squad fifth in the LMP2 standings after two rounds.
Photographs by Photo Francois Flamand / DPPI and Richard Mille Racing Team.