Conway targeting Le Mans victory
Conway targeting Le Mans victory

Ahead of the weekend’s virtual Le Mans 24 hours race Mike Conway has been looking back at the season before lockdown.

Speaking exclusively to Kent Sports News about his season in the World Endurance Championship and his desire to capture victory in the Le Mans 24 hours, Mike said: “The season has started really positively for myself and the boys in the #7 and we intend to keep that momentum rolling when we resume racing.

“It’s not been easy though, as we’ve had to carry success handicaps at most of the races so it’s been a little bit frustrating not to show our true performance at every race weekend but the team have done a great job to still maximise the package and collect important points.”

With lockdown Mike found himself in Los Angeles with his girlfriend, although there are worse places that he could spend lockdown.

He added: “Yeah keeping fit hasn’t been an issue, I’m on my bike almost every day and use the time outside to explore the city which definitely makes for some pleasant views! Other than that I’ve just been relaxing and making sure I stayed focused for when normality returns.”

Mike has raced in a number of race series over the years including Indycar but there is something that keeps drawing him back to the World Endurance Championship, as he explains.

“I think the first time I raced in the WEC I knew that endurance racing was well suited to me and the team aspect of it is really unique.

“You can’t just worry about yourself like you do in single-seaters, you have to help and push your teammates to ensure they’re at their best and that works both ways so they’re always pushing me to be better too. 

“The thing that keeps me coming back though is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To win that race will be the biggest achievement of my career and after coming so close to victory before it’s made me even hungrier to win there.”

The goal for the season is Le Mans, and then it is to win the WEC title that has so far eluded him since he joined the Toyota team.

He said: “For me personally, to win at Le Mans is the goal this season and everything else is secondary. Yes, to take the World Championship title is a huge achievement but Le Mans is the biggest race in the world and to have my name entered into those history books would make me very proud.

“After losing the victory so late in the race last year, I was ready to get straight back into the car and do the race again. Ultimately though, the safety and wellbeing of the fans, drivers, teams and support staff is paramount so we need to do what’s best for everyone.

“To win at Le Mans is my main goal so I’ll be pushing for victory as long as I can. Yes, it’s true I have been unlucky at Le Mans but that’s the nature of the beast. It’s a test of man and machine for 24 hours and you have to be prepared for any eventuality. Last year, it was a sensor that cost us victory which just shows how important the minor details are to win at the highest level.”

Whilst the actual Le Mans 24 hour race is not due to take place until September, this weekend will see Conway make his debut at the virtual Le Mans 24 hours, on the weekend that the traditional Le Mans would be run.

Speaking before it was announced he would be taking part, Mike said: I think each racing driver is different and they all do different things away from the track to make sure they stay at their best when they return. Personally, I don’t do any sim racing, yet, but it’s great that there’s still a platform for motorsport to continue during the lockdown and all the fans are still able to be entertained.”

In the last few years Mike has also taken part in the American Sports car series as well as a few races within Formula E.

Giving his thoughts on both series, he added: “I’m a big fan of the States and lived out here when I raced in Indycar so I feel at home when I visit.

“The racing is a bit more old school as well, you’ve got a V8, naturally-aspirated engine, compared to the Hybrid V6 we run in the Toyotas, and the circuits are bumpy and unforgiving so it’s a unique challenge in itself.

Formula E was definitely a cool experience and I had some fun racing in the championship. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out how I wanted but it’s a great series and I wouldn’t turn down a return if the right opportunity came about.”