Halliday's victory bid ended by gearbox failure
UK-based Californian Liz Halliday saw her hopes of becoming the first female class winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours dashed in the early hours of Sunday morning as her Courage LC75 developed gearbox problems which ultimately forced her retirement.
The dual-sportswoman, who combines careers in motorsport and three-day eventing, looked set to realise one of her sporting goals of winning her class at the famous endurance race when her Del Bello Team led the LMP2 class during the first half of the round-the-clock race. However gearbox problems during a stint for Liz's co-driver Romain Iannetta in the 12th hour cost around 60 minutes in the pits, dropping the team way down the order. Whilst they fixed the initial problem and sent the car back out on track, Halliday was then hampered by an oil leak, whilst more gearbox issues eventually forced retirement at 8.40am, 17 hours into the race.
Halliday's last stint in the car, which came after the first long pit-stop, proved to be one of her best of the race and saw the team recouping time and moving back up the field. She said "The car felt great and it was definitely my most consistent stint. But after my first pit stop I developed an oil leak. I felt the car slide in the second chicane and thought there might be some oil on the track. Then I arrived at Indianapolis and lost the car, missing the wall by about an inch. As I attempted to pull away again the car just swapped ends as I accelerated. The marshals pushed me back onto the track and I managed to limp back to the pits where the mechanics found oil spraying all over the back wheels.
"After they sorted that problem I lost fourth gear on the paddle shift and had to come in again, but even though we switched to manual the car still didn't work in fourth gear."
The car was eventually retired on Sunday morning after another long stay in the pits after team mate Vitaly Petrov lost second gear, leaving Halliday frustrated that a podium position at the very least had slipped through her fingers.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet," she said. "It's hard to take because the class podium, even the win, was within our grasp. But at the end of the day there was nothing any of the drivers could have done differently."