Not only was their first attempt at the legendary endurance event a success, but the IDEC SPORT Ligier #17 passed the chequered flag in 13th place driven by a very emotional Patrice Lafargue. We look back at how this exciting race ended.
You could feel the excitement in stand n°9 with a few minutes to go to the end of the 85th Le Mans 24-Hour Race. In the last pit stop by Patrice Lafargue, Paul put on his helmet and was ready to take the wheel, just in case, but there were only ten minutes to go. That proves how keen IDEC SPORT was to avoid any mistakes and to make it to the finish of the 24 hours of racing. In car racing, you never know what may happen. We should not forget how the Toyota retired in the final lap of the 2016 24-Hour Race after dominating the event.
It is down to superstition, but everyone was waiting for the final lap to rush out to applaud the Porsche LMP1 #2, which won the race and the thirteenth place taken by the team. The goal was to complete the race, which is already very challenging. But we have already seen that the trio on IDEC SPORT are very competitive. The result rewards their race.
Car number 17 covered 344 laps of the track in Le Mans after setting off in 29th place, or more than 4688 kilometres. The mechanics and engineers were also partly responsible for this success after their hard work during the 38 pit stops and managed to deal with the problems and avoid others thanks to their meticulous work.
Patrice Lafargue was clearly moved reminding everyone that the team is a family afair and that on Monday, both him and Paul will be back at work. We can bet that this day will however be rather special. “What pleases me is the lack of problems we had. I don’t think we have ever seen that before. The car was perfect throughout the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. And the line-up was very strong,” explained Patrice, who would joke around with the Nicolet pair. “I fought it out with the Barrichello car, but the team was not so fast. It’s really great to be able to race against people like that, as they have nothing left to prove. This will remain with us. That is what is magical with endurance races. Anything can happen. We saw that with the P1s. This race was down to chance. Then, you have to determine how hard to push the car in order to look after it. We stayed on the track and we didn’t want to complicate things. We now master that, as we have done lots of endurance races we are used to looking after the car,” explained the owner-driver, still over the moon about his final lap. “I was lucky to be able to finish the race. It’s a very special moment. It was fantastic with the spectators applauding and the judges lined up all along the 13 km track. They determine the precise track and are real fans. I loved it.”
David Zollinger was also overjoyed after this race: “That’s it. We did it. 2010 is behind me. I can now say that I have really done Le Mans. It’s crazy. The team did a great job as did Patrice and Paul. We didn’t make any mistakes. Everything fell into place and the gods were with us. Everything we have had problems with before worked, so I’m delighted,” said the driver, who enjoyed each handover. “I’d like to thank Patrice once again for allowing me to enjoy this experience with them, a pro team. It was just incredible. We’ll be celebrating this evening. It seemed trivial but finishing 13th is fantastic for our team. Sixty cars set off and in the end there were only 12 in front of us.”
Since he crossed the finish line on #17, the rookie Paul Lafargue has not stopped smiling. And quite rightly. “This is an amazing result. Thanks to all the mechanics. We couldn’t have done it without them. It’s great. We’ll be celebrating this 13th place after a highly emotional race. I felt a lot of stress at the start. I couldn’t wait for the finish. Between the start and finish, I don’t know how to put it, but I was really settled and time sped by. We’ll be making the most of this with the Mugello 12-Hour race coming up in a fortnight and then, we have to complete the ELMS season in style.”
We can be sure that the drivers and the whole of the IDEC SPORT team won’t be resting for now, in spite of the tiredness they have been building up over the past week.