After another testing time in Australia [at Bathurst], I was looking forward to getting back into the Ferrari 550 and finishing the season on a high at the Petit Le Mans. When I arrived, I was wondering how the testing had gone as I had missed it as I was travelling back from Aussie.

I stayed with a mate of mine in Atlanta for the first few nights, and while I was there his phone rang and he said I should answer it. So the conversation went like this...

DB: Hi Rick - how's you mate?
Rick: I'm doing great thanks. How was the trip to Aussie?
DB: Good and bad. Got pushed off the track and into the wall. Lost 2 laps.
Rick: Yeah, that's bad. Hey, I'm sorry about your car mate.
DB: WHAT?
Rick: Shit, didn't you know?
DB: WHAT!
Rick: Sorry to break the news, your cars nearly a right off.
DB: WHAT!!!!!!!!! What happened?

Well, Rick said that Jerome Policand had shunted my car and that the guys where working over time to get it ready for first practice.

As usual, they did get it ready in time and after the first session we were the fastest. Jan [Magnussen], Anthony [Davidson] and I were well pleased. The times where close as normal and we felt we had a good race car as we used old tyres all the way through practice and we were still quick.

It was my turn to qualify again and I was looking forward to getting in front of the Corvettes and Tomas [Enge], who was slightly quicker than me in the practice before. To my surprise, it started to rain, and all that time I spent visualising my stunning lap in my head went out the window.

Anyway, we went out to qualify and it was still a little new to me this car in the wet, and I knew Tomas would be quick. I heard over the radio that I was 0.012 secs behind Tomas and the track was drying a little. I came in the pits to change tyres. I asked what the options were. They were, hard wets, soft wet and intermediates. I thought for a moment and a little voice inside said to me: intermediates and you better not stuff up!

So off I went, slipping and sliding trying to generate heat into the tyres. This is a slick tyre with some fancy patterns on them, and I had never used them before. I knew that the last lap was going to be an all or bust lap, and so as the grip started to come, the times started to fall. My engineer was on the radio saying 'this better count' as I had dropped to third. As I crossed the line, I quickly looked at the lap time to see if it was good enough. To the relief of the team and myself, it was my second pole in a row. I was well pleased for the boys as they worked hard fixing the car and this was a reward for them.

The race day was dry and bright. Ticket sales were off the clock and the crowds were coming in early. We thought we were in good shape for the races and I was thinking of winning and trying to finish second in the [LM GTS drivers'] championship.

I started and on the first lap I got shunted from our team car. Thanks Alain [Menu]! ...We were having a great battle up front and the Corvettes were right with us. After a few hours it was clear that the Corvettes couldn't keep up, and it was a battle between the #80 and #88 Ferraris. The gap was never more that 10 seconds and the lead changed quite often.

After eight hours, the team decided to call the racing off and we were told our car should not pass the #88. This was fine with me because I had got second in the championship. It would of been interesting to race of course, especially as I felt we had a slightly quicker car toward the end event, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes!

So we finished one-two and the team were well pleased. It had been a hard year and the team really started to gel as we won the last four races in the series. Well done to the team and Michelin for a stunning job.

On the Sunday after the race, we had our annual football match, which the drivers play against the crews and officials. The drivers have won the last two years and we were looking forward to winning again. Well, we didn't win this time. We lost 7 - 4 and this time there was a trophy for the winners. We looked really bad and I was ashamed to have only scored twice. Last year I got 5 goals.

At the banquet that night we picked up our trophies and started looking for a new job.

I must say thanks to the millions of people reading my column, well maybe 10's of people. Thanks for being with me this year, and I hope I haven't bored the pants off you too much!

Thanks,

DB

PS. Look out for my review of the year - coming soon!

 

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