Writing exclusively for Mobil 1 The Grid, reigning champion Earl Bamber takes us through the moment he and Nick Tandy watched on as teammate Nico Hulkenberg crossed the line to seal an unlikely victory at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Everyone knows Le Mans is a very special place. It’s partly because of the history, and partly because it’s one of the only tracks in the world which is still a normal, public road before it is a race track.
And it’s that blend that makes racing at Le Mans such a unique experience – It’s certainly a privilege but it’s also a great challenge.
The track itself is very, very fast, with long straights at the start. So the style of racing becomes almost a 24-hour sprint. You really have to go flat out.
And then there’s the fans and the atmosphere. The first time you go out onto the Mulsanne is always an amazing feeling. That’s something I’m looking forward to experiencing again this year.
Winning Le Mans outright, as we did last year, was incredible.
As myself and Nick [Tandy] stood there waiting for Nico Hulkenberg’s car to cross the finish line, I can safely say those last ten minutes were probably the worst and longest ten minutes of my life.
I couldn’t watch.
You know at that point that there’s nothing you can do. With the end of the race so near, you have no control over what happens. And you know that, if something goes wrong, you’re out and you don’t get anything.
It was extremely nerve-wracking.
But to see the car finally cross the line as it did, was absolutely incredible. It was the most amazing feeling. Relief and elation, all rolled into one.
As for this year, it’s great to come back as the defending champions. Not being able to compete for the overall championship is unfortunate, but it’s going to be a nice challenge nonetheless to try and win the GT class and GT classification.
In many ways, for me, it’s like coming back as a rookie again. I’ve never raced a GT car here, so I’m almost starting from zero in terms of experience.
That said, we know we have a good team and a good car. The test went well and I’m confident that we’ve laid the foundations for a successful race. I’m looking forward to the challenge and, as a team, we’ll be sure to give it everything we’ve got.
Anything’s possible at Le Mans. And we’re the proof.