With his sights set on a fourth career victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Andre Lotterer is no stranger to Le Mans. Now racing with Porsche, the German-Belgian wants to repeat the success he had with Audi by making the famous 24 hour race his first victory with his new team, as he explains in this exclusive article for Mobil 1 The Grid.
I love Le Mans, so much so that you could say I got divorced for it! Yes, Audi and I share a great history together, and I could still be racing race for them, but obviously it would not be at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
To enter this race with Porsche has a unique appeal because the brand is so closely knit with Le Mans. The team has been involved in in the famous race from the very beginning. This goes deep.
When I was drawing sports cars as a kid, the pictures always had the shape of a 911. In recent years, I’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to buy several Porsche cars for my collection. Now, I’ve got two more: a company car and the 919 Hybrid!
Le Mans is such a huge project; a tremendous race. It takes everyone to the limit, which is why you have to rely on your teammates. Make no mistake about it, endurance racing is a team sport through and through. The nature of the sport we’re in means sharing a car with your best buddies – and whilst the relationship I had with Benoît [Tréluyer] and Marcel [Fässler] was very special, I am looking forward to building new friendships with Neel Jani and Nick Tandy.
Winning this race is absolutely fantastic. I had this experience three times, but I regard my first win in 2011 as the biggest success of my career. It was the first one, and you never know if you are going to have a chance to fight for victory for a second time, such is the nature of Le Mans.
Not only was 2011 my first victory, it was also a very special race which ended up being full of incident.
Allan McNish’s car had retired at the end of the first hour after a big crash. And in the night, Mike Rockenfeller had suffered his heavy accident. With two garages closed, Benoît, Marcel and I were racing all alone against Peugeot.
The Safety Cars were on track for hours, and we swapped the lead with them 40 times. With a difference of six seconds between us after almost 24 hours of racing, both teams came in for our last pit stops at the same time.
In the end, I won the race with a 13.8-second advantage. I had been in the car for five stints – that’s nearly four hours!
I was exhausted and elated in equal measure. It was so tough. But that’s endurance racing for you. And I would do it all again for a first victory at Le Mans with Porsche.