Last year, at around the same time, 55 highly tuned sports racing cars lined up on the grid for the start of the 78th Le Mans 24-Hour race. Under a bright sky with not threat of rain, the race was run entirely in the dry which made life a little easier for the teams and drivers, but there were more than just a few sore heads on Sunday morning on the banks and in the stands.
As a contest the race didn’t develop into the closely run duel that had been predicted, but it did produce some memorable mini-contests throughout the 24 hours. With four Peugeots occupying the first four places on the grid there were no prizes for guessing who was out to win the crowds favour and tighten the psychological screws in the mind games that are so much part of this classic race. Were Audi content to sit back behind the Peugeots in a kind of conservative counter swipe? After all, following the 15:00 start there are still 24 long hours of racing ahead of them and anything could happen – and usually does.
The GT1 class was won by the Saleen S7R (13thoverall), but in fact the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Lieb/Lietz/Henzler in the GT2 came home ahead of the GT1 Saleen. There were spills aplenty, and the Anthony Davidson works Peugeot tore down on the no.64 Corvette with such ferocity that despite there being no contact, the GT2 car headed straight into the barriers. There was a lot of damage but no injuries, fortunately. The Jaguar XKR RSR (GT2) went out after just four laps with a misfire, and the Beechdean Mansell Ginetta Zytek had an accident on the fourth lap.