MARK’S MEMORIES LE MANS
Ahead of the season highlight at Le Mans, Mark shares some of the memories he has of the race
I think I first heard about Le Mans in the mid 1980s, when the Rothman Porsches were dominating with Derek Bell and Jacky Ickx. As a young boy you remember those famous Le Mans cars probably more than the drivers or the race. I knew that a lot of ex F1 drivers went across throughout the nineties and that Michael Schumacher raced at Le Mans with Mercedes in 1991. I locked onto the race pretty late but before I knew it I was there myself.
Having raced at Le Mans twice now, I’ve learnt that it’s certainly quite an aggressive race in terms of pace. I think the mindset when I went there at the start was very much a pacing mentality but we’ve seen in the last few years that the race is pretty aggressive. With Audi, Porsche and Toyota the pacing and the intensity of racing has definitely lifted over the last few years – they’ve raised the bar so high that there is no pacing or cruising element to the race.
The fascination of racing at Le Mans is that it’s the ultimate test of man and machine. It’s a huge demand on the drivers and as a team you have to communicate extremely well and understand the end goal. The car is under extreme pressure for the whole race in terms of reliability and forces and everything is pushed to the limit. It’s a long week and a very long race. We know that the tricky patches are between 4 and 8 am but once we get through that and, particularly if there is a nice result hanging in front of you, then basically the sleep deprivation isn’t a worry.
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience the atmosphere on a lot of different podiums around the globe. The Le Mans podium is arguably one of the best in the world because the emotion spills out of everyone more so than in any other race I’ve been involved in – you’ll see grown men getting extremely emotional because they’ve been through the mill with the trials and tribulations, including surviving 24hrs without any sleep. There are tens of thousands of people below, and it’s a fitting conclusion to an incredible event; you’re really celebrating the event itself as much as your own personal success. The other thing I love about it is the level of respect; you can feel the mutual respect from your colleagues and for the whole event.
Le Mans is an incredible race and such a prestigious one to win. We were very close in 2014 until we had to retire the car from the lead at the 22hr mark and we came second in 2015. We have one step to go and I would dearly love to win together with Timo and Brendon. We’ve done a lot of work to prepare for the race as best as we can. We have huge respect for the challenge but we feel ready.
Petraon June 13, 2016 Reply
Hi Mark, i wish you and your team the best of luck for Le Mans ! Go get the victory ! Have a safe race werkend!
Big hug from Germany !
Rayon June 14, 2016 Reply
I was in that crowd last year watching the podium celebrations. Awesome experience. It was the first time I’ve ever been to the event. Always wanted to go one day (long way from Tassie) and being a Porsche fan what a time to go. It is a spectacular event. The peak of the sport. Go get ’em this year Mark. Good luck!
Sacha Darmaninon June 14, 2016 Reply
Good luck Mark. Wish you all the best and hope to see you on the top step of the podium. Lots of luck from your Maltese fan.
Sheilaon June 14, 2016 Reply
Hi Mark best wishes to you and your team the weekend. We all will be routing for you look forward to seeing celebrate which will be a well deserved victory.