Yiefi Ye told MotorsprtWeek.com that is a ‘huge honour’ to be the first Chinese driver to win a race in the history of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Ye, along with his teammates Will Stevens and David Beckmann, won the WEC 2023 season opener, the 1000 Miles of Sebring, helping the young 22-year-old to make history.
“It’s absolutely a huge honour,” he said in the paddock after the race.
The Chinese driver continued, “Great title. I personally hoped this could have happened two years ago at Le Mans for me. But yeah, what a fantastic way tob start the season with my new team, Hertz Team JOTA. A great way. Also to start a new relationship and collaboration with their many American sponsors and partners. We hope to continue this winning momentum in Portimao next round.”
Speaking of Portimao, Ye will have another new teammate at the 6 Hour race in Portugal, in the form of Antonio Felix da Costa, who will be driving at his home race for the team. When asked if this would pose a new challenge, Ye responded positively.
“I think we are professional drivers. We know each other actually quite well. I’m the new driver but we’ve been talking in previous years in the paddock. You know, it’s a team sport and we understand each other. So we will do our best to achieve an optimal result, and I’m very happy to have Antonio on board for the next round.”
Da Costa and Ye will be driving alongside Beckmann again at Portimao, as the team needs a silver-rated driver as per WEC LMP2 class rules. The German was delighted to take home a win in his WEC debut, as he told media at the post-race press conference.
“It couldn’t be better! The first time also in LMP2 and overall first endurance race — these two [gesturing at Ye and Stevens sitting beside him] helped me a lot, especially with important things like driver changes and everything,” said the 22-year-old.
“It was a lot to learn, but I think the hard work paid off. I think I did a good run, I just kept it clean and tried to be consistent and do not mistakes. I came here with no experience so I just did my best and just wanted to get it done smoothly,” he told gathered members of the media.
Stevens, meanwhile, spoke about how the team wion the race after starting fifth.
“The start was pretty hectic. Obviously we knew it was going to be, the first race without tyre warmers — but it was actually cleaner than I thought it was going to be,” Stevens said, commenting on the start.
The Briton continued, “We knew it was going to be a long race, and we knew we had a good race car. So we just needed to be patient and work our way towards the front. We managed to pull a big gap, but we knew they were very close to not having to fuel at the end, so we had to try and pull a gap. So we pushed in the last two or three stints of the race. We needed about 40 seconds, and we just about got there.
“And we weren’t sure if they were going to pit or not. So we boxed early, put the fuel in, and now we needed to get to the end. When I came out behind the Prema, I thought they were going to go the end, but obviously when they boxed we were delighted,” concluded Stevens.
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