Yann on the Le Mans podium Yann Clairay and his team-mates drove to perfection in the Le Mans 24 Hours and got the best result they could possibly hope for. They took their privately-entered Corvette C6.R into 2nd place in the GT1 category, ...
Yann on the Le Mans podium
Yann Clairay and his team-mates drove to perfection in the Le Mans 24 Hours and got the best result they could possibly hope for. They took their privately-entered Corvette C6.R into 2nd place in the GT1 category, with only the works Corvette ahead of them. Since he started racing GTs for Luc Alphand Aventures, the man from Mayenne has a 100% record when it comes to podium places!
The crew of Corvette No. 73 had two things in common: their tender tears (average age 26) and their significant experience at high level of single- seater racing. On the other hand, Yann was the only one to have already taken part in the 24-hour race - in 2006 at the wheel of a Courage. That year his race ended when a puncture going into Indianapolis turn sent him into the crash barrier. Like Yann, Dutchman Xavier Maassen knew the Corvette well after racing one to victory at Monza last season. For Julien Jousse, however, it was to be a totally new experience - his first Le Mans, first GT drive and first endurance race. As it turned out, the crew proved to be a perfectly-balanced unit. Everyone stuck to their role, executing team instructions to perfection in order to achieve a magnificent result.
Getting the result was no mean task, with obstacles to be overcome and traps to be avoided in what is the world's greatest endurance race. The Corvette gave the crew plenty of problems during qualifying, as Yann explained. "A clutch part had been fitted the wrong way round and the petrol pump wasn't working properly during free practice. It was my job the next day to set up the car and obtain qualification but we had problems with engine mapping. After the first two segments of my hot lap during the first qualifying session I was only a tenth of a second behind the official works Corvette driven by Jan Magnussen, (editor's note: the former MacLaren F1 driver). Unfortunately I couldn't complete the lap because the team picked up a fault on the telemetry screen and called me straight back in."
Yann made another attempt at the end of the night session, soon after 11.30PM. "As I was coming out of the Hunaudières straight the brake pedal fell off and I nearly ended up in the wall! It was a good job I was able to push down on the pedal arm." In days gone by, before they installed a roundabout at this point, you could have ploughed straight on at 300kpm until you got to Tours! "I came back in and the team repaired the pedal but then there was only time left for one lap. I attacked like crazy, but driving at night I could have done with two or three laps to get my bearings." With a damage-limiting 3'58''564 lap, Yann qualified 37th overall and 5th in his category.
The race itself was rather less eventful for Corvette No. 73. Yann (who took care of the start), Julien and Xavier relayed their stints at the wheel with no problem and made no mistake. For a while they alternated 3rd place in the category with their sister car, No. 72, the position changing hands at each fuel stop, until an unfortunate Patrice Goueslard got shunted violently off the track by a Lola-Aston Martin. So by 10.30PM car No. 73 was left to carry the Luc Alphand Aventures banner by itself, behind the two works Corvettes. "I took it easy during my first stint. Then we picked up the pace a bit until No. 72 dropped out, after which there was not much point in attacking. Whatever happened we weren't going to catch the works Corvettes. But lapping at an easy 4 minutes we were not too far behind them." Two hours and 17 minutes from the end one of the leading Corvettes suffered a broken gearbox, which let No. 73 through to take the chequered flag in 2nd place. "As soon as you step on the podium the place goes wild, there are people everywhere! There's a fantastic atmosphere at Le Mans, the place is truly magical! I hope I can come back here often, I can't describe the buzz it gives you! I'm so grateful to all my sponsors. Thanks to everyone who turned out to support me. See you next year!"
The next round of the LMS season will be in Portimao, Portugal, next August 1st.