Inter Europol Competition driver Fabio Scherer spoke to Motorsport Week in-depth about the Centenary Le Mans 24 Hours, nursing an injured foot en route to the LMP2 win, and more.

A tale of perseverance and resilience propelled Scherer and Inter Europol Competition to become Centenary Le Mans winners and title-contenders for the final World Endurance Championship LMP2 title.

Scherer joined the Inter Europol Competition team in 2022 across a select number of WEC races, the full European Le Mans Series campaigns, and Le Mans inbetween.

His FIA silver licence was uprated to gold by the end of 2021, which meant that he could not continue with the WEC United Autosports team he was part of during his debut sportscar season.

(L to R) Albert Costa, Fabio Scherer, Jakub Schmechowski of the #34 Oreca 07 LMP2 – Credit: Inter Europol Competition

This year has been the most successful for the Polish bakery privateer, most notably winning in a highly competitive LMP2 category at the Centenary Le Mans 24 Hours.

With an injured foot, Scherer won the race with Jakub ‘Kuba’ Smiechowski and Albert Costa in the team’s WEC #34 Oreca 07 LMP2 car.

“Working with Albert and Kuba has been great,” said Scherer.

“Albert is a quick driver, and Kuba has been a great silver because he doesn’t make any mistakes.” 

“I have seen a massive improvement from the whole team since last year.”

Scherer has competed in both European Le Mans Series and WEC campaigns for IE Competition, most notably at the 2022 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps when the team charged from last on the grid to second place.

Earlier this year at the 6 Hours of Spa, Inter Europol finished on their first WEC podium after a rain-soaked race, and without tyre warmers.

One of the highlights, for both Scherer and the Inter Europol team, has been the Centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans, which marked 100 years since the inception of the famed endurance race at La Sarthe.

Costa qualified the car in 13th position in LMP2, after his best attempts were unable to get the team through to the Hyperpole session.

Scherer, meanwhile, took the race start again this year in one of two Inter Europol Oreca 07s.

However, early in the race a very localised rain shower affected the first sector, as a mixture of the 62 cars opted for slicks or wet compound tyres.

“Driving at Le Mans start on slicks, we decided to be cautious,” he said, with the car amidst a fiesty LMP2 field.

“The race is not won on the opening lap or the opening hours.”

The #34 was in the LMP2 lead by just six hours into the race – Credit: Inter Europol Competition

Unlike at Spa-Francorchamps, the rain at the start decreased in intensity.

Ten minutes after the safety car was deployed for Jack Aitken’s opening-lap incident — which caused debris at the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight — the team changed to Kuba as a “tactical decision” to start fulfilling his drive time.

At such an early point, it was during this pit stop when Scherer’s left foot was run over by the Corvette. 

It was only after the race when the full details of the injury became apparent: ligament damage and an incomplete fracture, which had caused him to limp in and out of the car for the majority of the race.

Following intervention from the team’s physiotherapist, while still uncomfortable, Scherer was well aware of the speed in the package; his determination was stronger than ever to continue pushing, with the car in winning contention.

“The adrenaline helped mask the pain during the course of the race, plus my professional background in skiing helped me find ways of coping with the injury.

“I still braked with my left foot, but instead of turning the ankle, I pushed my left leg, having never braked with my right foot so I did not decide to do so.

By the sixth hour, the team’s #34 Oreca 07 climbed up into the lead of 22 LMP2 cars which were running.

It was the first WEC win for IE Competition – Credit: Photo Copyright 2023 FIA WEC / FocusPackMedia – Christian Rodriguez

“We were fighting for a potential Le Mans victory, and I did not think much about the injury — just our target to win.”

It was, however, not until the night phase arrived when the rain became more present, and caused several cars to go off the track as others steadily nursed their slicks back around to the pit box for wets.

“Surviving and keeping the lead during the heavy rain conditions in the night truly earned us the win.

“The long safety car period meant we couldn’t keep tyres up to temperature, but we just wanted to make it through the most critical phase.”

Kuba and Costa primarily interchanged driving duties during the early hours of the morning, until Scherer got back in the car at approximately 6.30 am local time.

A quadruple stint by Costa preceded Scherer’s final stint to lead Inter Europol towards their maiden victory, albeit with Swiss compatriot Louis Deletraz catching behind for Team WRT.

“I was not able to fulfil my best potential nursing the injury, but I was able to do enough to keep [Louis] Deletraz from catching me in the final stint.”

By the chequered flag, Scherer finished 21 seconds ahead of second-placed Deletraz of the #41 WRT.

The #34’s quickest race lap time was a 3:37.180 by the Swiss driver set on Lap 158, enough for the fifth-fastest race lap in the LMP2 category by the end.

LMP2 Podium (L to R): Jakub Smiechowski, Fabio Scherer, Albert Costa, #34 Inter Europol Competition – Credit: Copyright, XPB Images

“Taking the chequered flag was an unbelievable high, a memory I’ll never forget.

“After showing potential for the win last year and encountering an alternator failure, it felt like we completed something we started a long time ago.

“Our reliability was fine throughout the race, apart from a brief trip through a gravel trap.

“Compared to the start, the car felt dramatically different after various weather conditions, components like the clutch and brakes were worn in, and the track was rubbered in.”

The team won from 13th on the grid, a feat never achieved in the LMP2 category before, and Scherer described the podium view over a record-high attendance of fans.

“Wherever you looked, there were people.

“The atmosphere was incredible at the Centenary Le Mans.

“It was amazing to stand on the top step of the podium, and share the celebrations with the team — it was a crazy, emotional positive from a small team from Poland against big names like JOTA, WRT and United Autosports.”

“After the race, we saw and stopped by some fans on a roundabout and decided to share the champagne with them and show them the trophy.

“Hearing (car) horns as others joined in celebrations, it was amazing to see how much the win meant to everyone else as well as our own team.”

Inter Europol Competition became LMP2 winners at the 100th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours – Credit: Photo Copyright 2023 FIA WEC / FocusPackMedia – Christian Rodriguez

The injury took three weeks to recover through bespoke training, although the time passed quicker than expected, according to Scherer.

After securing the full 50 points from Le Mans, the #34 crew scored fourth place and 10 points at Monza just four weeks after Le Mans.

Their title rivals, the #41 WRT crew, won the 6 Hours of Fuji in LMP2 whilst the #34 IE Competition team managed ninth place and two points.

WRT’s #41 crew of Rui Andrade, Louis Deletraz and Robert Kubica lead the LMP2 standings on 135 points, as the #34 crew sit on 102.

Most crucially, Inter Europol must win in Bahrain to narrow down the gap, if not also to defend their P2 spot from the #22 United Autosports team situated one point behind.

After a difficult 6 Hours of Fuji, Scherer consolidated on the team’s expectations into the 8 Hours of Bahrain finale on 4 November.

“We want to finish the season on a high in Bahrain, and Fuji was our low and consistency was lacking a bit.

“Bahrain will be full-risk with no opportunity to waste if we want to become LMP2 champions from P2 in the standings.

“We should be very proud of our performance this year regardless of the result.”

Scherer shared the disappointment for LMP2’s WEC departure in regards to IE Competition’s recent progression, but points out the expectations of a growing Hypercar class.

As winners this year, Inter Europol are automatically invited to next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours which will still feature LMP2 competition, even if not in the full-season WEC package.

Above all, Scherer’s ardour to win the Centenary Le Mans was so intense, that even a foot injury did not overshadow his perseverance having spent much of the year preparing for one of the most decorated editions of Le Mans since 1923.

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