IMSA's Le Mans dream extinguished after 22 hours.
With just over two hours remaining, transmission gremlins finally put paid to the efforts of the entire IMSA Performance Matmut team at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Following extensive repairs carried out on the #76 997 GT3 RSR, Porsche's last remaining GT2 representitive returned to the circuit with three hours remaining. Sadly, Patrick Pilet, who had resumed at the wheel, soon realised that the gearbox problems that had delayed the car for so long were no closer to being resolved and returned a lap later for the final time. Rather than risk causing further damage to the transmission, the team, with deep regrets, took the descision to retire the car at 12.50pm after 265 laps.
Franck Rava: "Having rebuilt the gearbox, we soon realised that it was still making unusual noises, so instead of risking breaking everything and endure an agonising end to the race, we have decided that it was better to retire. It is a real shame for all the team who put in a fantastic effort this week. Nobody made any mistakes during the 24 Hours. We were running very well at the beginning of the race, making the most of the opportunities to lead it, making the right decisions at the right time and progressing well throughout the weekend. Considering that effort, I think we're unlucky not to have been better rewarded at the finish. More than ever this year you could not afford even the smallest of issues. The pressure was so sustained and the competition so tough that the slightest problem can have catastrophic consequences. That's exactly what happened to us. We will gather our thoughts and learn from the mistakes in an effort to eliminate such problems before tackling the Spa 24 Hours."
Raymond Narac: "The bitterness is stronger this time than last year. In 2008, we crashed with another car at the start, whereas this time we made absolutely no mistakes, from start to finish. Drivers, mechanics, engineers: not one of them has put a foot wrong! The clutch stopped working properly from around midnight onwards meaning we had to deal with it for all of the following stints. I am a trained mechanic and I knew that we could not last until the end running like that. During each stop, we had to put the gearbox in neutral and then brutally engage first to be able to start. Unquestionably we were going to have a problem. From midnight, we started to get delayed and in this type of situation, you have to take more risks, pushing the car harder and driving at the absolute limit. It is a massive disappointment for us as we really had the rhythm, the machine and the men to win this race."