Prodrive Chairman David Richards praised the “extraordinary” performance of the Aston Martin Racing operation at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, after the team prevailed in a close battle with historic rivals Corvette Racing.
The No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Jonny Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra shadowed the class-leading No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Jordan Taylor after the final stops until the 2015 event-winner flat-spotted a tire on the Mulsanne Straight, which developed into a puncture on the final lap.
Ten years on from AMR’s debut victory at Le Mans in GT1, a beaming Richards professed his delight at the Prodrive-run team’s first GTE-Pro victory, after several near misses in recent times.
“It was quite extraordinary from start to finish, you couldn’t write the script any better could you?” Richards told Sportscar365.
“The big battles were always with the Americans at Corvette, they’re wonderful people, very sporting and we always had great respect for each other’s teams.
“It is very satisfying result at the end of the day, you can imagine the number of people and that put a number of hours of work in to get to this. It’s been an extraordinary team effort and I’m very proud of everyone.
“The drivers spray the champagne but there are a lot of people back in Banbury who made this happen and deserve the accolade.”
Two-time British GT champion Adam, who was making his second start at the French endurance classic, described his pursuit of Taylor as “the stint of my life.”
After an attempted move at Arnage failed with three laps to go, the Scot was handed another opportunity when Taylor ran wide at the Ford Chicane and he didn’t need to be asked twice.
“After the last pitstop, the Corvette just pipped us on pit exit and it was a case of ‘if you want it, go get it,’” Adam told Sportcar365.
“He looked a little bit weak into Indianapolis, so I had to respond to that. There was a small opportunity at Arnage and I just had to pounce there and then.
“There was a little bit of contact on exit, but after that he had a big lockup down at Mulsanne Two, which then led to the flat spot which led to the puncture.
“To actually get the move done and see the amount of people that were even at that point hanging over the pit wall, it was quite emotional really.
“It’s a big operation with the Aston program in the World Endurance Championship and to see them hang over the wall and see their faces, it brought a tear to my eye, honestly.”
Adam hopes the win will spur a championship challenge, having been thrust into second in the GT Drivers World Championship behind the No. 67 Ford of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani, which finished second.
“It was what we needed, obviously the first two rounds were a slow start but Dunlop have done a great job this weekend, they’ve brought a great tire to this event and the team have really dialed in a great setup,” he said.
“We’ve not had to change much over the weekend and it just felt good from the day we rolled it out on Wednesday.
“It puts us in a good place and hopefully as we saw last year, the momentum will hopefully gather from there on.
“Ford are fast, don’t get me wrong, they’re still up there and they’re going to challenge right up to the bitter end but we’re up to taking that challenge to them.”