I’ve just had a well-earned good night’s sleep after the Le Mans 24 Hours with Aston Martin Racing – my second Le Mans, but the first where I actually got to drive in the race!
I arrived in Le Mans straight after the FIA Formula E Championship round in Zurich, travelling straight from Switzerland to the 24 Hours and arriving on Sunday night. As usual for Le Mans there was a lot of build-up and excitement. Last year I went as a Le Mans debutant in the LMP2 class, but this year was my first as a factory driver, and it was a lot more special being there with Aston Martin Racing. You don’t realise until you get there what a big fanbase the team has got – much more than I could have expected! It was a massive privilege and honour to be part of that. Even all around the track during the race, I saw so many AMR flags – that was something special.
The action on the track started on Wednesday, with practice and qualifying, and then continued on Thursday with more qualifying. Everything went well, although the Balance of Performance still doesn’t favour our new Vantage GTE and we weren’t as high up the grid as we would have liked. But in terms if what we executed ourselves, we got everything we could have done out of the car.
Jonny Adam started the race in our #97 car, then I did a triple stint, and then it was the turn of Maxime Martin. From then on we alternated. Last year, if you remember, I qualified on pole on my Le Mans debut in the LMP2 class, but the car went out of the race before I had a chance to drive. This time, I finally got to do a night-time double stint, getting in the car at around midnight and driving until 2am. That was amazing and really special for me. Then I drove again from around 5.30am to 7.30, and then did a midday-to-half-two stint before Maxime took over for the finish.
From our side, it became a case of getting to the finish and scoring as many points for the FIA World Endurance Championship as we could. It obviously wasn’t the weekend we dreamed of and hoped for, but in reality there were a lot of positives. Both the works Aston Martin Racing cars made the finish and there were minimal problems all week. Everyone at AMR, on both sides of the garage, deserves a pat on the back. We did have a damper issue and lost oil pressure – the car did almost a whole lap with no lubricant in it and at that point you think you’ll be lucky to continue, but the team fixed it and the engine ran as sweet as a nut. That doesn’t happen with too many cars, so credit to AMR!
I was really happy with my personal performance, but most of all I was proud of my team-mates. I don’t think anyone from the #97 car or the #95 put a scratch on our Vantage GTEs throughout the 24 hours.
I’ve got no driving now until the Formula E season closer in New York on 14th and 15th July. Doing a double programme as I am can get pretty busy, so I’m going to have some time off, get some training and cycling done and make sure I’m properly recharged for the second half of the year.