After competing numerous times at Le Mans, racing with the best in the FIA GT series, ALMS, and running a successful team in Spanish GT, Jesús Diéz Villarroel wanted another challenge. What better challenge then but to create your own endurance race? Well Jesús and the team at Project 100 have raised the bar considerably by not just creating another 24 hr race. but a 48 hr race – aptly named the Maxi 48 hr – to be held in Northern Spain in March next year. We caught up with Jesús Diéz Villarroel to find out how he came up with the idea and just what is required in staging such a mammoth event.
Jesús, you’ve had an extensive career in FIA GT, GT2 class in the ALMS and with your own team in Spanish GT. Did the idea for a 48 hr race in your homeland come about through discussion with fellow competitors or was it something you were planning for a while?
I first had the idea to do this race nearly one year ago. I wanted to do a race that was a step up from a 24 hour race – I think 24 hour racing is more like a big sprint race now. This is the main idea and it was something I really wanted to do.
Even a 24 hr races is grueling for drivers and teams. How do you think they’ll cope will a race twice as long?
I don’t think it’s too big a challenge for the drivers but more to start with for the team managers in the way they organize their crews. Each driver can only do 10 hours maximum so it’s relatively easy for them, but for the mechanics it’s different. We are discussing with the Spanish Federation rules to make sure they have some rest like the drivers do.
Perhaps if a team has eight mechanics, four will work and four will rest. Perhaps the team manager will have a deputy too. Some teams have said they will split the race in different ways. I think it will be up to the teams to work out their own strategy – its all part of the ultimate endurance challenge.
Will you be competing yourself?
I would like to drive and I am speaking with the team – but we will see; I have a lot to do… It probably wouldn’t be with the Viper as we don’t have a lot of spares. First I will concentrate on finding the minimum of 40 cars, with all the people that are working with us, and then I will see if I have time!
How did the Spanish Automobile Federation receive the idea for Maxi48?
The Federation were very positive from the very start. One of my partners Julian Piedrafita, has the technical responsibility and the Federation are working very closely with him to make the best rules for the best event. I was so pleased that during our first meeting the President said he loved the idea and offered us the full support of his team.
You’ve promoted the event saying that half the grid get prizes and that everyone can win! How does that work?
This is probably a bit lost in translation – it’s more that anyone couldwin – there are so many variable in this race. What we are saying with prize money, is that each of the 4 classes will offer prize money based on entry fees for that class and that 50% of each class with share in that class’ prize fund.
Entrees for drivers are considerable less than most other 24 hr events. How was this factored in?
This is just the entry fee per driver, not how much it costs to run the car for the team. What we know is that by restricting the amount of tyres that can be used the budget for tyres will be about the same as a 24 hour race. So with up to eight drivers per car, the cost per driver can come down.
Maxi48 will become the world’s longest non-stop race. Obviously to cut costs there’s a set limit of tyres and engines that teams can use, but with over 80,000 laps do you see teams over-stretching that limit and will penalties apply if they do?
We are currently finalizing the rules, and an important part of that is signing the agreement with our tyre supplier. The total number of tyres per car is planned to be between 120 and 150, but perhaps not all tyres will be changed in each stop, so again we will see more strategy.
Like I say, we are still working out the final details but we are thinking that for each extra tyre a team uses they will have a penalty of one minute – so for 4 tyres the team will need to do a four minute stop-go penalty.
By the way, the regulations will be finished by the middle of September and will be launched at a big event with the President of the Spanish Federation, the mayor of Navarra area and also the president of the circuit.
Managing 500 drivers at an event sounds like a logistical nightmare! How do you do it?
Our staff and the team at (Circuit) Navarra are working very hard on this and they have great ideas. One idea is that we will provide a relaxation area for drivers and teams. Navarra have held GT1 and Blancpain races before with 60 plus cars so this isn’t too hard for them.
In the first year we know that there will be some challenges but we have a great team who will solve problems as they happen. For example traffic on-track is an issue and also how they will rescue cars – to start with we have already agreed to have an extra pit lane behind the pit garages for cars that need to be recovered.
We also need to look at the number of marshals we need and also lights at the marshal’s posts. There are hundreds of things to think about but we are working on them all.
The Circuit of Navarra is designed to change in layout. Was this an attractive feature when deciding on a location for the race?
The main reason for choosing Navarra was that the management there absolutely loved the idea of the race from the very beginning. They also offered us very good terms – a 48 hour race is a very expensive event!
We did look at MotorLand Aragon; it has a track that is 1km longer but it’s in the desert and there are few hotels nearby. We also spoke to Jerez, but in the end Navarra offered the best total package.
The Navarra team also have experience of running big GT races which is a huge advantage for us; also the weather statistics are very good for that region in March.
Was there much deliberation over the vehicles that would be eligible; i.e. the speed difference between the Maxi GT and Maxi Touring classes?
Yes we thought a lot about this issue – the difference between say a Clio and a GT3 is about 20% – so it is more or less the same as the LMP1 and GT difference at Le Mans.
The weather in Spain during March starts to get warmer just before the Spring showers. Do you see weather playing a factor during the race?
This is one of the issues that we are discussing with the tyre manufacturers – we think we will need them to be ready with six sets of rain tyres for each team. It’s an issue for the teams too – we think each team will need at least six or seven sets of rims.
We don’t know what the weather will be, but the statistics show that there will not be much rain in March. The temperatures should be 15 to 18 in the day and 5 to 10 at night so we think that’s great conditions for the race. It also only rains one day out of four this time of year, so we might be lucky! Anyway rain will just be another challenge for the teams!
The Maxi Enduro 48 Hr takes place during the 14th-17th of March 2013. For more information go to: