JRM Racing achieved its ambitious objective today when it finished the Le Mans 24 Hours at its first attempt. The British team, led by team principal James Rumsey and team manager Nigel Stepney, passed the flag after 24 hours of hard-fought racing, 357 laps and over 4,800km in an impressive sixth place and second of the privateers’ class.
Drivers David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok delivered faultless performances to finish the race at the team’s first attempt.
David, the 2009 Le Mans winner, took the start in the team’s Honda HPD ARX-03a LM1 car and immediately gained one place from the starting slot of 11th. The Australian set a consistent pace to hold 10th position overall before handing over to Karun Chandhok just after 17:00.
Karun, who made history as the first-ever Indian to compete in the race, had a baptism of fire with an immediate quadruple stint in car #22 and had moved from P10 to P8 by the end of his time in the car. He then handed over to Peter, who started to exchange positions with the #13 Rebellion – gaining a position when the latter pitted and losing it when he himself refuelled. Peter later graduated to sixth when the #7 Toyota spent a significant amount of time in the pits.
However on lap 114 Peter had a puncture coming through the Dunlop Curves and went off into the gravel. The Scot subsequently had to negotiate almost the entire lap with a puncture, and was pulled into the garage to check for suspension damage. No major damage was found but the delay dropped the #22 back to 17th overall. During the stop David took over from Peter for his second session in the car and the fight to gain positions began.
The Australian made a charge through the LM2 cars and was back to 9th overall by the time he handed over to Karun Chandhok on lap 158. Karun soon went up to 8th and set about chasing the #44 Starworks car for 7th overall. Then, on a stop on lap 169, Karun reported a problem with the clutch and was pushed into the garage. He rejoined in 12th overall but brought the car back to the pits in 9th when he handed over to Peter just before dawn.
Peter then put in a long stint as the sun came up, completing 42 laps. When he came off shift a little after 07:30hrs the Scot had put the team back into 7th overall, clear of the LM2 cars and three laps from 6th. David took over from Peter and consolidated the sixth position before handing back to Karun for another quadruple stint.
Peter concluded the race for the #22 JRM Racing, crossing the line in an incredible sixth overall in its first Le Mans and only its third-ever endurance race.
Final position: 6th overall
James Rumsey, team principal
Before the race I said we would be thrilled to finish the race. That was an underestimation – we are absolutely overjoyed. It’s only our third ever event as a team and our first Le Mans so to finish, and to finish well, is almost indescribable. The drivers all drove very, very well and came together as a crew. David was invaluable in giving us his experience, Peter did a great job through the night – particularly after the puncture when things could have gone very wrong – and Karun did incredibly well to be so consistent on his first visit here. This week has tested everyone – we’ve had a lot of work, lots of late nights and yet everyone has pulled together to achieve this result. I am so proud of everyone and am sure that this is just the start of something very big. Watch this space.
Nigel Stepney, chief engineer and team manager
I’ve been in motorsport for longer than I care to remember, but this is a feeling that goes beyond anything I’ve experienced before. The sheer amount of effort that’s gone into the result in the months and weeks before this has tested everyone and it’s incredible that we have a result that justifies the workload. We’ve had more than our share of problems leading up to the race this week and a couple of minor issues in the race, but really reliability has been pretty good – the only issues we had were incidentals. There is a lot of luck in Le Mans and while we were lucky today, the preparation that’s gone in before has helped us get a bit of luck for ourselves.
What a journey we’ve had as a team today - and actually since the start of the year. We’ve done two races as a team and come to Le Mans for the very first time so to run in the top six and run as well as we have, with no real reliability issues, is an amazing achievement. Since the start of this programme the guys have been up against it as the car came so late, and even this week they’ve been working hard to get everything ready and prepared. There have been a lot of very late nights so I am very proud of everyone in the team who has worked so hard to achieve this result.
Driving for nine of the last 36 hours and sleeping for four makes for a pretty tiring ratio! I ended up doing the graveyard shift from 2 – 5am, which was very special and exhausting in equal measure. It made me really understand the unique, special nature of this race. Overall a very good race for us and it feels great to be the only Indian to have finished the Le Mans 24hr race. The whole team worked tirelessly and it is a great reward for all their hard work. We have all been flat out since the first test here. I am absolutely exhausted and look forward to taking a nice long break. To finish second amongst the privateer teams is huge so fantastic result all around.
The last stint was so nerve-wracking; I kept listening to every noise, vibration and little twitch thinking what was it?! This result means so much to everyone that I was concentrating so hard at the end to give them the result they deserved. If anyone had anyone offered us that before this week we would have gladly taken it. We thought it would be a miracle to finish, so I think we have to thank someone up there… David and I have both had our share of ups and downs in Le Mans so it’s great to finally get a good result – it’s something to build on for next year! Karun did a superb job in his first 24 hour race as well – I think as a driving trio we couldn’t have done any more.