The best we could have done
Well that’s another Le Mans completed; my 14th time already. The week was pretty enjoyable from the driving seat. We ran well on the Wednesday night, got through a lot of the planned programme and – for the first time ever – we brought forward the race engine change to Thursday. With the forecast for bad weather on Thursday night, the boys pulled a long shift to complete the race prep and got us ahead of the game. This also meant they were able to have a good sleep the night before race day, which is not something that happens very often.
Prior to the race we were all feeling positive about the Aston Martin and its reliability. The only grey area was the difference in the performance of the Ferrari and the Ford from the Le Mans Test to qualifying, which certainly surprised everyone at Aston Martin. I’m sure it surprised Corvette and Porsche too.
As I’ve said numerous times before, I’m a fan of Balance of Performance. It’s required in GT racing to keep the racing close and provide a spectacle for the fans who go along to watch the events. With the new technology there was definitely a two-tier element to the GTE Pro class this year. With the turbo engines it looks like it’s now much harder to equalise the performance to create a level playing field.
That’s what it was, though, so all we could do was stick to our game plan of maximising what we had and throughout the race that’s exactly what we did. If you look at how much time our car spent in the pits during the race, it’s minimal and probably better than any other team in GTE Pro. The puncture we had, which was caused by debris, was the only thing that held us up but we were still many laps down at the end.
We did everything we could – drivers, team, mechanics, strategy – absolutely every detail was maximised, so we are proud of our performance and that’s all we will take away from the weekend.
Looking on the bright side, the top three finishers at Le Mans weren’t World Endurance Championship entrants so despite finishing fifth we take the big haul of points for second place. This moves us up to third in the championship for drivers and first in that for manufacturers, which helps to makes up for the disappointment of our non-finish at Spa.
Although from our side it wasn’t the most competitive of weekends, we still made it to the flag and that was a great feeling for the team. My heart goes out to Toyota. That was their race and I can’t imagine how bad it would feel to lose it with less than four minutes to go. I was looking forward to seeing Anthony [Davidson] celebrate his first Le Mans win, so I hope they come back even stronger next year and make the full 24 hours.
Most of the time I keep my eye on what’s going on in the wider world of racing, but the week at Le Mans is like living in a bubble. We stay on site and only venture out for the driver parade and scrutineering, so you tend to lose touch with the rest of the world and I have a bit of catching up to do now.
As I write it’s back to normality as I have a day with the kids before heading off to Silverstone for a day with the Aston Martin Vulcan customers, after which I go off to the Goodwood Festival of Speed for a blast up the hill in a Vulcan. I’m a lucky fella.