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24H Le Mans

Stevens: JOTA ‘Made the Most of It’ With Run to Eighth

Will Stevens on JOTA’s rollercoaster weekend; run to eighth overall in 24H Le Mans…

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

Will Stevens was pleased to see Hertz Team JOTA’s No. 12 Porsche 963 secure a top ten finish after a clean run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, noting he “wouldn’t have thought that would be possible” after the team shook down its replacement chassis the Friday evening before the race.

The No. 12 machine, which Stevens shared with Callum Ilott and Norman Nato, was one of nine cars to finish on the lead lap in the closely-fought 92nd edition of the French endurance classic.

Nato brought the car across the line in eighth position, just over three minutes behind the race-winning No. 50 Ferrari 499P but still a place ahead of the No. 38 sister car driven by Jenson Button, Oliver Rasmussen and Phil Hanson.

The top ten finish came after a hectic week for the No. 12 crew, which saw Ilott shake down a replacement chassis on the Le Mans airfield on Friday evening after the team completed an extensive rebuild following a crash in Wednesday night practice.

As a result of the crash and repair works, the No. 12 car skipped Hyperpole as well as the remaining practice sessions and only returned to the circuit for warmup on Saturday ahead of the race.

Stevens pointed out that the compromised schedule for the team had drawbacks when it came to performance, which became apparent when he lost several positions and went from eighth at the start to 15th by the end of the opening hour of the race.

“We’ve been struggling for straight line speed the entire race,” Stevens told Sportscar365.

“Obviously, when all the cars are close together, it’s hard to keep people behind when you’re struggling for straight line speed.

“We had a few gremlins through the race that we were trying to manage. Obviously, when you have your first lap, you’re not sure of some of those gremlins.

“So we managed to do the best we could in that situation and start to make our way forward again.”

While Stevens laments the fact that the team lacked the speed to get involved in the battle for the race win, he admits that a top-ten finish was a commendable achievement given the events of the past week.

“There’s two ways to look at the race,” Stevens said.

“Firstly, to finish the race, have no reliability issues, still be on the lead lap, chip away, make no mistakes, that’s what you have to do in the morning. Credit to the team for putting us in that position.”

“Honestly, from where we were on Wednesday, we wouldn’t have thought that would be possible.

“On the other hand, we just weren’t fast enough. From where we looked like we were this week to now, we’re definitely not as good as what we look like.

“But that’s always the risk that you run when you put yourself in situations like that. You run a car you haven’t run before. It’s never going to be ideal, so it’s one of those ones.

“But in situations like that, you’ve got to make the most of it and we’ve still come away with some points and that’s the most we could have done for this weekend.”

Tincknell: Door Issue ‘Came Back to Haunt’ Proton at Le Mans

While JOTA managed to secure a top-ten finish with both of its Porsches, fellow privateer squad Proton Competition was the last classified finisher in the Hypercar class, 60 laps down on the leading pack.

The No. 99 car, driven by Harry Tincknell, Julien Andlauer and Neel Jani, was hamstrung by issues from an early stage.

While it later encountered driveshaft problems, an early door locking problem effectively curtailed a competitive run in the opening hour.

Notably, Proton also ran into problems with the door not closing during the previous FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps, something that was not lost on Tincknell.

“We had the door issue at Spa, and it’s come back to haunt us here,” he said.

“It’s obviously frustrating that we had an issue and you know your fate early on. Ultimately, even without the door problem the driveshaft failure would have had us unstuck.

“Off the back off Spa and fighting for an outright win, it was more of a humbling weekend. But we’ll come back stronger at Sao Paulo.

“We needed four pit stops to fix the door, and then at the end we had a driveshaft failure, so I parked up a pit entry and then managed to find some drive and get it back.

“We had it fixed with about two-and-a-half hours to go, but we just went out at the end just to finish to get P3 in the Privateers’ Cup. One to forget really.”

Jamie Klein contributed to this report

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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