Anthony Davidson has reflected that despite Peugeot having annexed the top four grid positions for the 78th edition of the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend, qualifying is 'just one piece of the puzzle' – and he conceded that were he to triumph in the legendary round-the-clock classic, it would be the best achievement of his career 'by miles'.
Davidson is making his third appearance at La Sarthe in 2010 – and his second in as many years – but it is in truth the first time the British star has a car capable of triumphing in the #1 Peugeot he is sharing for the event with 2009 winners and fellow ex-F1 drivers Alex Wurz and Marc Gené.
Second on the grid was a strong start – just over six tenths shy of Sébastien Bourdais' pole position benchmark – and the former Super Aguri star acknowledged that the closeness in lap times of all four 908 HDi FAPs, including the Oreca-run entry, is testament to the fact that the pace being set is very hot indeed, and he dismissed any suggestions that Audi has the edge over its French rival when the weather turns more inclement.
“It's such a long lap that six tenths is nothing at all,” the 31-year-old reflected, speaking to Crash.net
, “but we were genuinely surprised to see such a big gap between ourselves and our competitors. We're really, really happy with the performance of the car and it's just been a dream to drive so far. It's exactly what we wanted to achieve in qualifying, but that's just one piece of the puzzle here, as everyone knows. It's a long race and we've got a lot of work to do.
“When it was damp we were testing out different tyres. We were on the full wets and they (Audi) were on intermediates, and a few of them I think went onto slicks even. I think what's predicted is a little bit more rain before the race, but then not much else. We should be lucky. I hope we are, because I think it will be close enough anyway in the dry between ourselves and them. I wouldn't read too much into what happened in the 'wet' session.”
Peugeot's clear objective for the weekend is to repeat its victory of this time twelve months ago, and it is evident that Davidson would love to be one of the trio that ascends the top step of the rostrum on Sunday afternoon, having finished a delayed 13th in 2009 with Aston Martin Racing. Of all that he has accomplished in his career to-date, it is beyond question that triumphing in the race dubbed the toughest in the world would top just about everything.
“I'm loving it!” the Hemel Hempstead-born ace enthused in conclusion. “This is one of the best races in the world, and I'm just loving being involved in the top team and having a genuine crack at trying to win it. That would be the best, by miles. I'd even rate it above the achievement of reaching F1. To drive a Peugeot at Le Mans is better for me than a Super Aguri in an F1 race any day.”