In his latest exclusive column for, Peugeot sportscar star Nicolas Minassian reflects on the bitter disappointment of missing out on Le Mans 24 Hours glory in the round-the-clock French classic last month - and how he hopes to be back at La Sarthe with the Lion in 2009 to make it third time lucky...

My feelings after the Le Mans 24 Hours were a bit of both, really - happy and sad. It would have been nice to win, because you don't get chances like that all the time - for me it was the first time that I had been in a position to win. The car was mega; it was unbelievable.

I think there is a big analysis to be done of why it didn't work out. We weren't very good in the wet, and we need to find the best compromise in the car so that it works in every condition. Audi did well with that, but I think we did really well anyway.

It was just difficult to find good pace in the car in the wet; there wasn't much grip - simple as that. You're trying hard in the car and you're losing time, so you feel like you're doing a bad job because you can't find any pace. Marc [Gen? - team-mate] was probably the quickest of the three of us in the wet, and he was just good enough to hold off the Audi. It was difficult.

There was lots of pushing in the morning, and we had a few problems start to come on the car as well. Even pushing, it was difficult to do the same kind of lap times we had been doing on the Saturday. We were just trying anything - you never know, you can maybe gain 20 seconds and then if they have had a problem in the last hour those 20 seconds can be vital. You never give up.

It was my choice to keep slicks on towards the end. I think it wasn't a bad decision, because I was about five seconds a lap quicker. It was a bit tricky - I did a 360 at the top of the straight - but I just wanted to push really hard. We gained 15 seconds by not changing the tyres - we were just trying to gain anything. We were becoming desperate!

You've always got a feeling you can win it, but the hype was going down a bit because we knew we were running out of time.

When Tom Kristensen in the leading Audi had the coming-together with the LMP2 car late on it didn't look that bad. If he had damaged something it would have been a different story, but as soon as I saw him carrying on and pushing hard, I thought 'he's alright'.

I hope I'll be back. We've got to see if Peugeot want to keep me next year, and then it's back on again!

? bient?t,


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