Matt Griffin said he felt an “explosion of emotion” after claiming the class win on the final lap of a thrilling GTE-Am finish in Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone.
The Irishman, who entered the last lap third in class, gave Clearwater Racing victory in its WEC debut, despite all odds in a rollercoaster closing stint for the Ferrari ace.
Griffin, who got around the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Pedro Lamy for the lead with 24 minutes to go, was forced to make a late stop for a splash of fuel, which dropped the No. 61 Ferrari 488 GTE to third with just minutes left on the clock.
However, the race was far from over, as drama was about to unfold up front between Lamy and the No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Miguel Molina.
“That last stint, I just pulled a pin. I knew we had the splash so I just went for it,” Griffin told Sportscar365.
“When they called me for the splash, the feeling of having to come into the pits, because when I passed Pedro I’d built up maybe a 15-second lead, and with rain around and everything, it was a bit gutting to come into a stop.
“But when I came out and I saw Molina pass me, I was like, ‘OK this is on’, and I just went after him.”
Griffin went in pursuit of Lamy and Molina and had a front-row seat view for the race-changing move at Stowe.
“They were a little bit ahead but they were on the inside and I was on the outside,” he explained.
“My plan, because as a driver you do definitely plan things, I was like, ‘OK I’m coming down.’ I knew the Aston was very fast in a straight line, but I knew the Ferrari had better traction.
“Miguel was all the way over to the right in the Aston, so I knew that if I went all the way deep into the corner, I’ll hook back and maybe I’d do both of them on the exit.
“I braked a bit early, and as I braked, they didn’t, and then they just touched and there was smoke.
“I’m hanging on to the car and I just managed to navigate my way through it, and then I came over the line saying, ‘How long left in the race, how long left in the race?’
“And the engineer told me the race was over and we won, which was fantastic.”
It marked the first win for the Singaporean team, and Griffin’s co-drivers Mok Weng Sun and Keita Sawa, in both drivers’ debut in WEC competition, outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Griffin admitted it took a few moments post-race to soak in what he had just achieved.
“Winning a WEC race is brilliant but winning it in that fashion, you can’t actually describe the feeling because in the car you’re fully concentrating and you have no emotion when you’re driving,” he said.
“Then you realize you won it and you won it in that way, it’s just an explosion of emotion, so it’s fantastic.”
The last-lap contact between Lamy and Molina, which initially had been under investigation, resulted in no further action, with the No. 98 Aston Martin therefore finishing second.
Newly named Ferrari factory driver Molina, who was stranded in the gravel trap, failed to take the checkered and was thus unclassified, promoting the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR to a third place finish in class.
Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report