“A turning point in my career!”

Esteban Masson's career took a new turn in Qatar, where he left the world of single-seaters to try his luck in Endurance. He will start in LMGT3, with the hope of one day getting a seat in Hypercar.

Esteban Masson, at just 19 years old, is about to dive into the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship. He will drive the No. 87 Akkodis ASP Lexus RC F GT3 alongside Hypercar defector José Mario Lopez and Japanese driver Takeshi Kimura.

The French Canadian, French F4 champion in 2021 and Eurocup-3 (F3R) champion in 2023, can count on the wise advice and unwavering support of his manager Didier André, a successful former driver who knows endurance perfectly.

On the occasion of the first round of the season in Qatar, Endurance24 had the opportunity to speak to the youngster whose GT experience is limited to the 2023 Bahrain 8 Hours, at Kessel Racing. Discover the first part of this long-running interview…

Esteban, what was the trigger for this transition from single-seater to endurance racing?

“My single-seater journey began in 2021 when we decided (with Didier André, editor's note) to go to the French F4 championship. My single-seater career has been quite successful with two titles in three years. After the title won last year in Eurocup-3, I had the opportunity to join the WEC and the decision was to choose between continuing to drive in single-seaters or moving towards endurance.

Knowing that budgets for single-seaters for a season in FIA F3 today are astronomical, I may not have had the opportunity to put together the budget necessary to have a rookie-level season. .

Races in the world championship where the biggest manufacturers are present (…).

This is an opportunity that cannot be refused. I am happy to be able to race in a world championship where the biggest manufacturers and the most important teams are present. It was weighed on the scales and chosen with the whole team. »

Esteban Masson (Akkodis ASP), part 1:

© MPS Agency

How did this opportunity with the Akkodis ASP team come about?

“Thanks to Didier's network, at a time when it will be complicated to do well in a single-seater, the opportunity arose. It was time to perhaps consider a change of direction. So I was able to do this test before the last round of the Eurocup-3 championship, in Barcelona with the Akkodis team (the day after the final of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup). It was through that test that the opportunity for the final race in Bahrain came. And after this race and test, we had the opportunity to sign with Akkodis for this WEC season at Lexus. »

This test day in Barcelona was really the trigger for this program. Can you tell us something more?

“I found myself in the Mercedes-AMG with which Raffaele Marciello had just won the title the day before. I was a little afraid because I didn't know the car or the team. When I arrived, everyone made me feel comfortable. It wasn't easy because I was the only one who didn't have any GT experience at the time and I was racing against drivers who did. The goal was to constantly improve, to adapt to the conditions and the car. I'd say I did about 60 laps, which isn't a lot, and I didn't even do long rides.

All the work I have done with Didier and the whole team over the last five years has paid off

The goal was achieved and I want to say that I had a lot of fun. I was very happy all day. All the work I had done with Didier and the whole team over the last five years paid off at that moment, which marked a turning point in my career. »

Esteban had to use his adaptability to express his talent behind the wheel of the GT, whose ride is very different from that of a single-seater.

“Obviously, it's much heavier, we're not centered in the cockpit, there are much fewer aerodynamic beams and it's more powerful. The ride itself and the feelings are different. We feel a little less that things are coming. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised by the aero, especially in the GT3. I was pleasantly surprised by that and their tire handling performance. I would say that it should have a lot more control overall as the degradation is higher depending on the circuits. »

Esteban Masson at the Bahrain 8 Hours © Agency MPS

In just a few weeks, the young man had the opportunity to test the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and Lexus RC F GT3. Enough to gather experience in a short time.

“In the three runs I did in GT, I drove in three different cars. In a short time I assimilated slightly different behaviors and feelings on those GTs. I can't thank everyone who put this together enough. And I am very happy that I was able to try so many things in such a short time. It was very useful and I think it will help me a lot for the start of the season, especially the race I drove in Bahrain. It was a really great opportunity. And that is also what prevailed in the fact that I was a good asset for the team this season. »

Don't miss the rest of our interview with Esteban Masson tomorrow. In the second part of the interview, he will present his impressions and expectations as the Prologue approaches. He will also reveal to us his medium-term ambitions.

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