Le Mans is a global and magical event for any driver. From the start to the finish you pinch yourself and ask if you are really, actually there doing what you have fantasized about doing since you were a toddler, having watched the incredible Group C machines pound their way down the Mulsanne Straight.
The fact that we then went on to make history as a group at Jackie Chan DC Racing x Jota Sport, by joining the big boys on the overall podium with both cars is something I will remember forever.
The fact that, to be honest, on Friday I would have bitten your hand off for a top-5 in class also amplified the joy I felt on Sunday afternoon.
We had, had engine issues all through qualifying, and despite the ever logical and well-reasoned diagnosis of the Jota Sport guys, it had taken us a little running time to get to the bottom of it.
Starting out of position, Tristan [Gommendy], as always made short work of most of the field to put us up front. And I did my best to continue the job.
What I thought at the time was disaster struck in Hour 5, as a confusion with a much slower back marker turning in on David put us in the gravel.
With almost a lap and a half lost, I looked myself in the mirror before jumping in resolved that this year, if we were going down, it wouldn’t be without a fight!
With the new-found freedom of having nothing to lose, we found some fantastic pace though the evening hours.
The car was an absolute credit to the team in terms of handling and reliability. We pushed on with absolutely zero issues… A first for me in any 24 hour race.
Crossing the line to gain what at the time was a class podium is one of the most satisfying moments of my motorsport career.
I have finished 2nd at Le Mans before with OAK Racing in 2013, but in 2017 the drive back through the field as a unit with the incredible spirit of the mechanics and my teammates who never dropped their heads when we looked out of contention and pushed on; what an incredible feeling!
To move on to the overall podium after the race was absolutely what they deserved for their ‘double engine changing, 4 a.m. pit stopping’ efforts.
I think as a team we all spared a thought for the Rebellion guys. Particularly as they have acted with grace and sporting professionalism after the stewards decision was concluded.
We had just experienced for ourselves what it takes to run competitively at Le Mans and understand the brutality and at times cruelty of the race.
I’m sure they will come back stronger in Nurburgring, and we’ll need to up our game yet again. Looking forward to it!