The Vierzonnais Steven Palette will be at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the LMP2

For Stephen Palette, it’s a “children’s goal” to achieve. Drivers from Vierzon were selected to grab the handle of the only Ligier JSP217, n ° 27, that competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP2 category (facing 26 Oreca 07) on June 11th and 12th. I did. He will make his debut in the world’s most prestigious endurance race with Dane Michael Jensen and Hubs Christoph Crepe. The adventure has begun alongside the latter.

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The duo, along with Antoine Dokin, participated in the Asian Le Mans Series, a four-race championship in the United Arab Emirates, and awarded the winner a ticket to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the Land of the One Thousand and One Nights, the Perigor team’s CD Sport car moved at least once to get into the gearbox. She left four podiums and titles. “It took us two weeks of hard work to get this result back,” recalls the Vierzon driver.

As soon as the competition was over, Stephen Palette warned: “Cross your fingers to meet me at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.” After the last few weeks of long negotiations, he finally signed a contract with the team about 10 days ago. “If I hadn’t joined the three drivers on the team, I would have positioned myself as a spare driver for the other teams,” he explains.

First decisive experience with prototype

Until then, Stephen Palette, who had been recognized as a specialist in French champion Grand Touring, has opened up new opportunities thanks to these races on the Arabian Peninsula. man”. “Thanks to CD Sport for contacting me and trusting me, and Christophe Petit from Ligier Automobile for recommending me,” he explains.

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This first decisive experience opened a new door for him. Following his performance in the United Arab Emirates, the team debuting at Le Mans chose to put his trust in him. She wanted to reward the six drivers who kept her color in the Asian Le Mans Series (which included her two cars). Like the whole team, Stephen Palette lives a once-in-a-lifetime dream.

24 hours, parentheses for the season with few races

Vierzonnais drivers are currently struggling to find other projects this season, even if they have been shining on the circuit last season.

“Most of my work this year consists of pilot coaching,” explains Stephen Palette. I prioritize the traditional Ligier endurance program and 24 hours, but otherwise I’m having a hard time finding other projects. I’ve won three titles in the last two seasons, but it’s hard to find a chance in 2022. “

“They prefer drivers that are one tenth slower.”

At the end of 2020, he and Simon Gachet won the European Champion in the GT World Challenge Europe in the Silver category. In 2021, he won the title of French FFSA Tourism Champion. At the beginning of 2022, he won his first prototype title in the Asian Le Mans Series (see above). A race that opened the door to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So how does he explain that the phone doesn’t ring more to provide him with a handle?

“The team’s budget is growing, but we rarely reach the full budget. We need a driver to complete it,” said the Vierzon driver. However, more and more young people want to go to F1 and eventually leave the single-seater for GT (Grand Touring), and for them these cars are only a small budget. Teams prefer to choose a driver that will bring money, although it will be one tenth lap slower. »»

Therefore, I am always looking for new sponsors and teams on my profile that are ready to take on the driver.

Result: This season he races only in the Ligier JS Cup France. In this program, he finished 6th in the first round at LeMans (Salt) at the beginning of April. While signing pole position and lap record. A program accompanied by two gentleman drivers who are non-professional drivers who rent a car from the team and participate in the race.

“Therefore, I’m always looking for new sponsors and teams on my profile that are ready to take on the driver,” explains Stephen Palette. Therefore, his participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is “a goal he set himself when he was 16 years old” and becomes an attractive parenthesis in a year with few races. Therefore, by winning the parentheses he won on Asian trucks … the title that qualifies the car.

Ludwig Olegan