Did anyone really think they would do it – this year?
Tom Walkinshaw, my old boss in the “Chariots ” Porsche days, said when he took Jaguar back to Le Mans in the late 1980’s:
“First race to see what breaks – second time to finish – third time to win!”
I certainly (and foolishly) underestimated the Porsche race team. They seemed to have the pace in practice, blasting the Audis off the grid, but I don’t think too many of us heavy duty supporters thought the cars would last the full 24 hours.
We knew Audi would push the pace to break the Porsche’s, but low and behold the opposite happened and it was the Porsche’s that came home first and second.
The lead car seemed to run flawlessly, and the previously all conquering Audis had no answer to the amazing pace of the 919’s. Well done to everyone involved with the project – it was a fantastic effort; the designers; the technicians; and especially the drivers. The pressure on Hulkenberg over the final couple of hours must have been immense – just keep the car going – don’t stuff it into the barriers in the rain – don’t lose concentration – you are about to make history! Dr. Porsche is in the pits – oh my God!
(Thanks also to him and his directors for signing off the project in the first place).
It was a victory that will be talked about for many years.
The marketing people say that “a win at Le Mans on Sunday means sales in the showrooms on Monday.” Speaking from personal experience of running a Porsche centre for over 25 years I can confirm that this is the case. I’m sure Porsche dealerships around the world will benefit from this brilliant success. There will have been plenty of “doubting Thomas’s” who will have seen Porsche broaden its base of production cars over the past decade and thought “the end is neigh” for the famous sports car manufacturer.
But here we are, in 2015, and Porsche are not only the most profitable car manufacturer in the world, producing a fabulous range of cars, but also back winning at Le Mans – against all odds!
I think I’ll the old 993 out for a blast!