François Perrodo needs no introduction. Few gentlemen drivers have achieved the results that the French entrepreneur has in the course of his motor sport career. Though twice winner of the FIA Endurance Trophy, the equivalent of the world title for drivers and teams in the LMGTE Am class, Perrodo had never managed to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But that eagerly pursued result finally arrived this year.
“It’s a dream come true,” says Perrodo. “I think that winning Le Mans is even more important than winning the Championship for a gentleman driver, because it’s the most important race in the world. It also takes place in France, so it’s even more special for me as a Frenchman. We had a perfect race: we weren’t the fastest but our strategy was outstanding. In the middle of the night, the conditions were very complicated. I was a bit worried and my engineer, Luca Volta, suggested maintaining the pace and avoiding mistakes of any kind, so as not to lose time and precious laps. That’s essential at Le Mans. I’m very happy. I managed to handle the stress and have a perfect race. I’ll always remember this.”
Le Mans, the second title in a row and a profession that doesn’t allow for breaks. “Honestly, it’s very hard. Finding the right balance is extremely difficult, especially this year when the competition was tough and I always had to be at the top of my game. So I just tried to stay in shape. I have a personal trainer who’s designed a special programme. With new technology I can still work, but it’s not the same as managing everything directly from the office. Straight after coming back from competitions, I have to really throw myself into work.”
Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera were there to make things easier on the track this year. “Nicklas is exceptional. Last year he showed he had everything it takes to be a top-flight driver and this year he had to take on the team captain role. I feel privileged to share the car with him, because he’s exceptional and we’ve become great friends. Alessio was a fantastic discovery. We call him ‘The Ice Man’, because he’s never upset and always does his job.”
Dreams that come true or have already come true, like racing a Ferrari. “It’s one of the world’s most famous manufacturers, and racing for Ferrari is always special even for a gentleman driver like me.”