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Davidson: Winning Le Mans “Written in the Stars”

What will be, will be for Davidson and Toyota in 2017…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Anthony Davidson is heading into today’s start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans feeling relaxed about his chances of avenging his last-minute defeat in last year’s race, saying he will “go along for the ride.”

Davidson was part of the Toyota No. 5 crew that lost last year’s race on the final lap when Kazuki Nakajima broke down in the TS050 Hybrid, denying the Japanese marque its first Le Mans victory.

Toyota has returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2017 with great strength, sweeping to a front-row lock-out in qualifying, led by Kamui Kobayashi’s new lap record set on Thursday evening. Davidson will start second on the grid alongside Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.

Despite his heartbreaking defeat in 2016, Davidson has not changed his mentality heading into the race, with the Briton remaining relaxed about the course of the 24 hours to come.

“Obviously you want to win it by being the fastest, that’s what you want. We should have had that feeling last year, that result last year,” Davidson said.

“Looking at this race, I haven’t really changed my mentality from how I approached it last year. Treating it like a 24-hour charity go-kart race! I’m just out there to have fun.

“I drove brilliantly last year, I think my best ever sports car race. I want to just try and do that again. If I finish last, we finish last. If we don’t finish, we don’t finish. If we win, we win.

“This one just seems to be written in the stars. I’m just going to go along for the ride and see what this year brings.

“I watched a documentary recently on climbing Mount Everest, and the locals said that you need luck to get to the top, and I think it’s the same as that.

“I could really empathize with what they’re saying, because it’s true. You can plan this race as good as you can, and at the end of the day you do need luck to win it.”

While Davidson remains eager to add a Le Mans win to his FIA World Endurance Championship title success in 2014, he does not believe that his value as a driver or reputation would increase as a result.

“I don’t think that if I won this race, other people’s perception of me as a sports car driver will change,” Davidson said.

“At the end of the day I don’t really care about what other people think about my driving, but I’m hard on myself.

“Last year we did enough to win this race and I know I’ve done the job multiple times.

“I said a couple of years ago that I know how to win this race as a driver, and I proved that last year. I proved it to everyone and I don’t actually need a trophy or for it to be on my CV to prove it.

“You could argue that as the years go by it means less and less. And that’s how I get the best out of myself for this race.

“I find people get too caught up about it because they put too much weight on this one race when you can’t control how well you do because it either comes your way or doesn’t.

“If anything the result last year has made me even more relaxed and carefree about a race that really I shouldn’t be relaxed and carefree about!

“I know it only comes around once a year and it’s the big race with lots of history. I’m desperate to win it – but I’m not going to lose sleep if I don’t.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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