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Looking To The Future With Gilles Duqueine, In LMP2, In LMP3 & LMDH?

By Mat Fernandez

DSC’s Mat Fernandez met Duqueine’s CEO and founder Gilles Duqueine in Monza during the ELMS weekend. The frenchman shared his thoughts on his company’s development in the motorsport industry.

Gilles, if one looks at the ELMS entry list this weekend, the LMP3 grid has a majority of Ligier JS P320 prototypes. Is this a disappointment? Were you expecting better sales figures for your Duqueine M30-D08 Nissan?

“It’s no secret that the product development and the marketing teams of Ligier have done a great job.

“On our side, I believe that the image of our car suffered a little, at least initially. It’s a shame because our D08 is, ultimately, an excellent car, just look at what DKR Engineering is capable of doing with it in the ELMS Series. And it’s not just DKR, look also at the results of Muhlner Motorsport or Rinaldi Racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. They are also raising their game.

“Fortunately, this created emulation amongst D08 owners. I am really happy about that… this is what we needed to get over this initial and unfounded disappointment. Our car is a good product, I believe it is ahead of the competition, we just needed to get out of that uncomfortable zone. Yes, we did suffer but now I am confident that this phase is behind us.”

How is your current order book looking? Are sales figures headed in the right direction?

“Yes, we are triggering more and more sales leads. Teams are coming over to see us. We discuss prices, timeline, conditions of delivery, there is good momentum going on. In the meantime, our plant in Alès (south of France) has been transformed. We now have a beautiful production unit and quite some space to handle spare part inventories. I have also used this economic downturn to restructure our teams on site.”

Are you happy with how your team is performing in the LMP2 category?

“The LMP2 category of the ELMS is essentially a monotype series. We are all starting on the grid with equal chances to win. We have been working hard and we did improve.

That’s good, yet competition is fierce and it’s very hard to be ahead of everybody else. In fact, I get the feeling that teams are getting better prepared, year after year. With that in mind, showing up regularly in the top 5 positions is a real satisfaction to me.”

Can you share with us where you are standing with regards to your new car developments? What are your thoughts regarding LMDH?

“We are working on a D09 prototype (presumably the 2024 replacement of the current Duqueine M30 D08). We are giving many thoughts to our design brief first and working to ensure that we ultimately get that product right.

“On the topic of LMDH and Hypercar, I have to say that I initially had some trouble understanding where the rule makers wanted to take us. But in the end, it’s an exceptional and excellent set of regulations. Hats off to the ACO! Just look at what Peugeot did with it. That car design is so pleasantly disruptive, they’ve really nailed it by empowering design teams.

“I believe that an LMDH program could totally fit with the development strategy and the quest for excellence of our aeronautical group. It’s clearly an interesting business opportunity assuming that you first get the support of an OEM group. We are most definitely looking into it. There is some room for us to exist here, undoubtedly.”