v. Corvette. On paper, the Yanks were favored having raced more in 2008
than the Brits. Apparently no one told the AMR boys.
It is amazing to see how well, how British, Aston Martin pulls off Le Mans.
Everything in orbit around Planet Aston exudes the highest level of quality
and understatement. From the exquisite Gulf blue colours on the cars to the
Taittinger champagne served in the AMR hospitality facility, everything is
done first class. This attention to detail does not distract the team from
arriving at Le Mans with racecars that are fast and meticulously prepared to
compete. This company (especially given their relatively small size) is the
benchmark for every team and car manufacturer to come to Le Mans and
maximize their efforts both on and off the track.
Perhaps both the GT-1 and LMP-1 classes were decided prior to the cars
arriving on French soil. After a year in the closet, Aston Martin brushed off
the dust, fired up the engine and set up the cars that delivered faster speed
and superior tire management than their American rivals.
The Audi trio of Capello, McNish and Kristensen drove a perfect race. This
was only possible by Audi AG providing them with a better designed car,no
steam cleaning radiators in the middle of the night. A far more experienced
crew (9 minutes less in the pits) and a set up that worked in both the dry and
the wet (47 seconds faster in 3 wet laps in the wee hours of the moist
morning) than the newer Peugeot 908.
The difference between victory and defeat in both of these classes was a
handful of minutes. The postmortem on the Peugeot will be easier to
perform than on the Corvette. But can any level of examination provide clues
to intangibles? Passion? Desire? Competitiveness? How do you measure
Perhaps the 2008 edition of Le Mans will mark the end of the GT-1 era. Will
anyone be left to race in this class in the years to come or will the class
And was 2008 the best chance for Peugeot to ever defeat Audi? In defeat
Peugeot learned a lot of valuable lessons and will shore up their
shortcomings. Expect Audi to return to Le Sarthe with a new car, redesigned
to win from the front instead of battling from behind. And other large
manufacturers will be ready to go as well.
When the checkered flag fell on Sunday, Audi once again left it mark on the
French. Quite similar to ink-stained drawing left two days earlier on the
derriere of a Le Mans maiden. Bold. Memorable. And hard to remove.