Jumping Into a 458: Archie Hamilton Q&A

Archie Hamilton, grandson of legendary Le Mans winner Duncan Hamilton, will take to the Circuit de La Sarthe tomorrow for the 82nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We spoke to him about what it’s like to jump into Ram Racing’s Ferrari 458 Italia and take on the legendary race.

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SCV: What’s it been like jumping into a car that you’ve not driven before, a Ferrari 458 Italia?

AH: I've driven the Corvette, the Porsche, the Aston etc. so I'm not so worried about that, and I've got Johnny, Matt, Alvaro and Federico who are really experienced so that will help me a lot. The team are European champions from last year as well so I'm just picking up all the advice I can and I've done a lot of simulator stuff and 2 support races here at Le Mans so I know the track which is half the battle!

SCV: What do you have to have get used to with a new car like this?

AH: I’ve had to learn everything in the car off by heart. There's a lot that you need to know: back up cranks, back up fuel pressure sensors, back up fuel pumps, another throttle cable so you can get back if the main one breaks...

There are a lot of different settings to know about and everything's thought of because if you get stuck, that's it. You get it drummed into you and they give you different scenarios like 'go to map 5, go to map 1, do this, do that'... they're trying to catch you out basically. There's a lot to take in!

SCV: Have you found any bits particularly difficult?

AH: The hardest time is actually coming in for a pit stop because you've got launch control, you've got to reset your fuel, you have to get throttle percentage and your clutch position spot on, you can't spin the wheels up, especially when your tyres are cold. People think you get a break at pit stops but you really don't, it's complicated stuff!

SCV: How long will you drive in one go?

AH: We'll go about 50 minutes on fuel and I'll be triple stinting so I'll be in the car for about three hours. It goes quite quickly because you're concentrating so much. When you get out is when you realise you were in there for such a long time, but when you're in there you're so focussed you don't notice.

SCV: What compromises do you have to make with two over drivers having to drive the car?

AH: It's really comfortable to drive but the one thing about Le Mans is that you're never going to be perfectly happy because the others have to fit in the car and the seat doesn’t move. It’s not so bad in my Ram Racing 458 because we’re all roughly the same size, but last year we had one really tall guy which made it quite difficult.

SCV: What do you think you can achieve at Le Mans this year?

AH: The first hope is to get to the end. I don't think we'll be the quickest over one lap because our car has the 2012 front end but over the race it should start to play into our hands. As long as you've got a good car and you can keep plugging away you’ll do OK because people are going to drop out here and there. Just keeping out of trouble, there's no reason why we can't get a podium.