Loïc Duval has celebrated many major successes in motor racing, including winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013 and the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC in the same year. Nevertheless, during his first two DTM seasons he had to learn a few things the hard way. Now at his third attempt he hopes to make a breakthrough.
“In spite of my motor racing experience, I was practically a rookie again in the 2017 season,” says the Frenchman. “I knew that the DTM was not an easy series. Still, the first season was tougher than I’d expected. There were some highlights, such as my first DTM podium at Zandvoort, but on the whole it was an extremely difficult season.”
From 2017 to 2018, he took a big step forward. “Unfortunately we at Audi struggled a bit initially. We only became really competitive in the second half of the season. I hope I can make similar progress to what I did from 2017 to 2018 and continue the good performances that we enjoyed towards the end of last season. I’m very excited about the new turbo engine and having Aston Martin as a rival. Both are great for the series.”
Duval already gave an indication last year that he would be one of the fastest in the Audi RS 5 DTM after clinching pole position at the night race in Misano. Over winter, he worked intensively alongside his new race engineer Philipp Kluth to prepare perfectly for the new season. “Philipp has been with Phoenix for a long time, has a lot of experience and he’s very familiar with the DTM,” says Duval.
Prior to his switch to the DTM, Loïc Duval spent five years contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with Le Mans as the season highlight. “2013 was a sensational season with victory at Le Mans and the WEC title together with Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen,” explains the Frenchman. Only a year later, he made headlines with a serious accident at Le Mans – a story that has something in common with that of his current DTM teammate Mike Rockenfeller. Just like “Rocky,” Duval returned to the cockpit after a brief recovery break. In 2016, for the two most recent Audi triumphs in the WEC, he was sitting in the victorious Audi R18.
“I’m really thrilled that I’m still teamed up with Mike in the DTM,” says Duval. “We’ve always gotten along really well. Mike is a good, open type of guy who knows what’s important in the DTM. I’m grateful for the stability of driving in the same team with the same teammate for the third year.”
The DTM scene, however, was not entirely new to Duval. In 2004 and 2005, he contested the Formula 3 Euro Series as part of the support program. On that occasion, he watched the DTM races with suspense and also got to know most of the race tracks on which the DTM is held.
After his time in Formula 3, Duval moved to Japan for nearly a decade where, parallel to single-seater racing, he contested the Super GT Championship, which he won in 2010. “The cars I drove there were similar to those in the DTM, which is another reason why I immediately felt comfortable in the Audi RS 5 DTM at my first test.”
Duval is particularly pleased that the DTM and the Super GT are now cooperating and that the first joint races are scheduled for the end of the year. “Both are strong series, this collaboration is fantastic for the DTM and motor racing as a whole. The joint events will be the best that touring car sport has to offer.”
For many years, the Frenchman lived in Tokyo, Japan. Now, the Audi driver lives on Lake Geneva in Switzerland with his wife, Gaëlle, and their two sons, Hugo and Martin. Last summer, the Duval family moved from Nyon to the nearby town of Prangins. Parked in the family’s garage is an Audi SQ7 TDI. “A perfect family car,” says an enthusiastic Duval.
In addition to motor racing, football is one of the Frenchman’s passions. Whether at official PR commitments, matches of celebrity teams or in his private life – Duval is an avid soccer player and has been a supporter of Audi’s partner FC Bayern München since his childhood days. “I love tennis too. I’m a great fan of all kinds of sports and watch many different events on television. In early 2017, I got the opportunity to watch the Hahnenkamm ski race as a spectator in Kitzbühel. That was a fantastic experience as well.”
Duval stays fit primarily by cycling and swimming. He rides hoverboards, and trains with a personal fitness coach. In the DTM, he has raced under a new car number since last season: “28 is the number of the French ‘département’ where I was born. It has accompanied me my whole life.” Perhaps a color change will also help him achieve the much-awaited breakthrough in the DTM: For this season, the paintwork of his Audi RS 5 DTM has changed from black to red. “I hope we’ll perform strongly right from the start and that I can fight for a podium results,” says Duval.