Our 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours was brought to a premature finish yesterday after an engine problem forced our car from a pretty commanding GT2 class lead into retirement just before the end of the 19th hour of the race. I was left stranded on the side of the track…something I’ve experienced before and didn’t want to have to do again.
It should have been the perfect way for Corvette Racing to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its first win, but a huge amount of attrition throughout the four classes unfortunately included us. It doesn’t help much, but I kept bumping into people in the paddock afterwards and finding out they’d all had problems of one sort or another – many of them our colleagues from the American Le Mans Series entrants who had all made the journey to France and then been unlucky in some form or other.
The upside was that we started from the GT2 pole position – and I got an amazingly impressive trophy (eventually, after it was retrieved from Risi who had been given it in error!) for that. I think it’s fair to say that Olivier [Beretta], Manu [Collard] and I dominated the GT2 race – closely backed up by our sister Corvette. We had to fight off the attentions of the lead Risi Ferrari in the first quarter of the race, but that was such a great battle. It apparently brought the media centre, the commentators and all the fans to their feet as we were nose to tail for lap after lap, and I certainly got out of the car with a huge smile on my face. When they dropped back after a gearbox problem, we were able to keep all the other GT2 competitors at bay until our own issues.
Unfortunately it all started to go horribly wrong while Manu was at the wheel Sunday morning. An extremely arrogant and over-aggressive pass by Anthony Davidson in one of the Peugeots pushed Manu hard into the barriers at the Porsche Curves. He managed to get the car back to the pits and the guys fixed the car brilliantly after the crash, but it was all a bit of a mess at the back of the car. We had the fastest GT2 car for 18 hours, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
It’s frustrating that we got so far into it, proved that we have the speed and the pace to win the race, and then a crazy move at a dangerous spot brings it all crashing down. Anthony doesn’t seem to understand the spirit of sports car racing; that everybody has to share the track and we are four different classes. Every driver has to have respect for the others as we are all having our own, very competitive race within a race. That accident was huge, but it shows the strength of the car that Manu was able to drive back to the pits and climb out without an injury.
My next two races are at Paul Ricard for the FIA GT1 World Championship and, a week later, back to the States for the Salt Lake City round of the ALMS. You can only look forward in this business and that’s what I’ll be doing.