Aston Martin Racing secured victory on its first outing in the LMP1 class of the Le Mans Series, after Jan Charouz, Stefan Mucke and Tomas Enge took the spoils in the opening round of the year in Spain.
The #007 car produced a reliable run to remain in contention at the front of the field and a storming final stint from Mucke saw him chase down the leader before a late caution period closed up the field.
On the restart, he made light work of passing the lead Pescarolo and opened up a lead of nearly 15 seconds by the chequered flag.
“I'm absolutely delighted with this result, but it was a very close call at the finish,” he said. “It was so tight at the end that I really did not know which way everything would go. Eventually we were able to take advantage of the safety car to close up, and then we found a gap in the traffic to pass the leader. He went to the inside, we went to the outside and thankfully it worked. Once we were through, I think we proved that we had the pace to win.”
The sister Lola Aston Martin, shared by Harold Primat, Miguel Ramos and Darren Turner looked set to join the #007 on the podium until Ramos suffered a spin in the final hour and was unable to get the car restarted.
“I obviously have mixed emotions,” he said. “I'm very disappointed and sorry for what happened when I was in the car, but I am delighted for the team. I was following behind an LMP2 car during my final stint, when I spun. I tried to control the spin in order not to hit the barrier, but once the car was stopped I could not get it going again.”
Despite the disappointment of seeing one car fail to finish, Aston Martin chairman David Richards was pleased to secure a debut LMP1 win, especially considering the limited running completed ahead of the new campaign.
“This momentous victory is a fantastic reward for the many weeks and months of hard work put in by every member of the team. Endurance racing is above all a team sport, and I think that we have proved this once again today.”