After two seasons in the Ligier European Series behind the wheel of COOL Racing’s #4 Ligier JS2 R, driver Cédric Oltramare has embarked on a new adventure: LMP3. First, in the Asian Le Mans Series, and since April, in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. Still with COOL Racing, the Swiss driver continues to climb the endurance ladder at the controls of the #87 Ligier JS P320.
Flashback to 2021. After gaining experience in Caterham and karting, Cédric Oltramare made his debut in motor racing in the Ligier European Series with the COOL Racing team aboard the #4 Ligier JS2 R. It was a new world for the driver, who had never raced before. “I started from scratch during season 1. I learned how to race in this championship,” he confides. He finished his first season just outside the top 3 in the category.
Cédric Oltramare returned the following year, still in the same car and with the same team. “During season 2, I improved a lot in pure driving and had to learn about race craft and how to position myself with other cars”. It was a mixed season, but he scored his first victory in motorsport in Race 1 at Monza.
The Ligier European Series meetings also gave Cédric Oltramare an opportunity to go behind the scenes of two other ACO championships, the European Le Mans Series and the Michelin Le Mans Cup, where his COOL Racing team competes in the LMP2 and LMP3 categories.
“I’ve had two fantastic years during which I’ve been able to develop the skills I need to make my debut in LMP3. The Ligier JS2 R is a brilliant car to learn in. I am sure of that,” says Cédric Oltramare. For example, unlike a GT4, it doesn’t have ABS or traction control.”
Necessary adjustments for the switch to the Ligier JS P320
After his first test in Barcelona in July 2022, Cédric Oltramare was back aboard the Ligier JS P320 in Portimaõ in October. “The Ligier JS2 R and the Ligier JS P320 are not exactly comparable. But I would say that the Ligier JS P320 is more predictable, and you can drive it close to the limit,” he adds.
“Some adjustments are still necessary for the driver, such as switching from left-hand to right-hand drive. “The biggest change was to get used to braking with my left foot. The pedal placement meant that with the right foot, I couldn’t put the appropriate pressure on it, and it shifted my entire body. I needed two days of test to get used to it.”
First LMP3 race in the Asian Le Mans Series
To prepare for his Michelin Le Mans Cup season, Cédric Oltramare took part in test days, simulator sessions and the Asian Le Mans Series in February (in the #17 COOL Racing Ligier JS P320). “It was a wonderful experience for me. For my first LMP3 race, I drove at night with 48 cars on the Dubai circuit, which is very poorly lit,” he recalls with a smile. The result of this first championship: a runner-up finish in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
In addition to the track time, Cédric Oltramare puts a lot of effort into his physical preparation, with running, cycling and swimming to reduce fatigue and improve concentration during the race. “As this is my third season in motorsport, I have a big step to make in terms of my mental preparation, which is linked to my physical fitness. With the Ligier JS P320, you have to be in better shape than with the Ligier JS2 R,” explains the driver, who now trains daily.
Mental and physical fitness are essential for continued progress
Cédric Oltramare’s first Michelin Le Mans Cup race was at Barcelona in April aboard the #87 COOL Racing Ligier JS P320. The Swiss driver and his team showed good pace at the meeting, topping the timesheets in official practice session 2 and finishing in the top 10 (out of 30 LMP3s) in free practice and qualifying. But just when the podium was within reach, the race ended in sixth place. “I have a lot of mental work to do to stay calm during the race,” admits Cédric Oltramare. “I work on my driving all the time with the simulator. But the mental side and the physical conditioning will help me continue to improve my driving”.
Cédric Oltramare hopes to reach a new phase in his development on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit on 8 and 9 June during Road To Le Mans (the special round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup). ” I feel good. The races are shorter and over two days, so I hope to improve from one race to the next and understand how to evolve.”