An interview with Neil: 2011/2012

Neil Garner, team owner and manager, sat down for the first time this year to reflect on the start of the 2011 Le Mans Series championship, to share his views on the Formula Le Mans 09 prototype and reveal potential projects for the 2012 season.

- Are you satisfied with the team's debut in the Le Mans Series?

Yes very much so. The Formula Le Mans project is a superb way of getting into the Series and results in some very close racing. I like the 6 hour format, it gives plenty of track time for the drivers and has enabled the team's experience to grow with both a prototype chassis and the LMS style rules and regulations.

- Do you think that Silverstone is a good track for the car?

I think Silverstone will suit the Formula Le Mans chassis. The circuit has a lot of high speed aero corners which is where the car excels, so will give the drivers the opportunity to really push the car in these areas. As we'll be joined on track by the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup participants, there will be plenty of room for the high number of cars on the circuit at any one time. Obviously Silverstone is our local circuit so I would like to think it will give us a small advantage, especially with the drivers knowledge of the famous twists and turns.

- Is winning the championship still the team's goal?

After damaging the chassis at Imola and not being able to race, it is now very difficult for us to win the championship. This however will not stop us pushing very hard in the last two races of the season; we are still striving for a podium position finish in the championship and will certainly do our best to be on the top step for the rest of the year.

- What do you think of Phil Keen?

Phil is an excellent talent with a very mature head on his shoulders. He has outright pace that has shone throughout the season, most particularly at Spa where he put the car on pole position in amongst several of the LMP2 cars. Phil works very well with both the engineers to set up the FLM09 as well as John and Steve to help them better their lap times.

- Are you satisfied with the collaboration between the team and Oreca?

Oreca have given us a lot of support this year and made us feel very welcome in the series. Eventhough this manufacturer supports LMP2 teams as well as the Formula Le Mans class, the staff are always ready to help and provide great service. They are certainly a company I feel we can work with confidently and would seriously be considered if we were to purchase another chassis in the future.

-What are the team's projects for 2012?

For 2012 we have already had discussions with our drivers and LMP2 drivers. The natural progression would be to move into P2 but I would like to continue running the Formula Le Mans team as it's such a good platform. Our long term plan is to have a P2 chassis at the 24 hours of Le Mans which could be as early as next season...

-What are the weak points and strong points of the FLM?

There are very few weak points as a lot of the components are derived from the P1 and P2 projects so they are designed to run for 24 hours. Oreca themselves are always on top of any small problems that may occur and will upgrade as necessary: Driver seat support can be a challenge in the middle of the chassis but again Oreca are working with us in this respect. Apart from this acute detail, the car is a joy to work with!

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