The 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours was surely the toughest race we have ever faced both emotionally and physically.
The tragic loss of Allan Simonsen in the early laps of the race shook everyone, and in the JMW Motorsport the pain was particularly heartfelt. As a former driver for the team and always a friend, Allan's passing remains raw and difficult to comprehend. At the bequest of his family the Aston Martin team, with whom he was racing, carried on in the race. The drawing together of the whole racing community, teams, media and fans, was palpable as the race continued and for all involved with the thought of Allan very much in our minds.
For JMW the greatest competitor at Le Mans was the race itself. In the previous two years, excellent runs have been cut short around the 17 hour mark, making the chequered flag a quarry of almost fairy-tale proportions.
This year we had a wonderful line up in the car of Abdulaziz Alfaisal, Andrea Bertolini and Khaled Al Qubaisal. After some drama in qualifying, come race day the car was well prepared and we were all raring to go on a new Le Mans adventure.
Andrea Bertolini started the race and from the clock starting eyes were fixed on the skies almost as much as the track. As with run up week, the weather looked set to be changeable and challenging. Throughout the whole 24 hours the rain fell here and there, causing parts of the 8.469mile circuit to be sodden whilst other sections remained dry.
These tough track conditions ensured the race was frequently interrupted due to spins and offs, though thankfully all involved were safe as understandably tension was heightened after the earlier tragedy.
The JMW Motorsport Ferrari had its own few moments of 'thrills and spills' but for the most part the Dunlops coped admirably with the tricky conditions thrown at them. The car, decked out in the winning Dunlop 'Design the Driver' livery, featured a picture of John Boyd Dunlop on the side in honour of it being 125 years since he founded Dunlop. One wonders what he would have thought had he visited today.
All three drivers enjoyed strong stints, all performing well in the iconic dark hours. A little but of drama was thrown into the mix in the early hours when the team received a stop-go penalty for a pitstop infringement and later in the morning an unexpected pitstop was required for a faulty headlight. Otherwise it was a race of keep on keeping on.
With grit and determination the hours continued to count down and the magic moment arrived when the JMW Motorsport Ferrari, driven in the final stint by Abdulaziz, crossed the finishing line and at last we were reacquainted with the Le Mans chequered flag. We finished a fine 10th in class and 35th overall.
In a weekend that reminded us of the best and the worst of motorsport, a weekend that reminded us that the competition on the track is strengthened by the bonds off it, JMW Motorsport could stand proud, if sad, and see their hard work rewarded.
As always the team thank the unfailing support if partners Dunlop, the wise help of Michelotto and Shell Racing Solutions. We thank our other partners and friends including AJ Power and Redlaw. It was a pleasure to welcome new members to the family and hope they enjoyed it as much as we did. We must also thank the unwavering support of our fans who whether at the circuit or via cyberspace, made their presence known and helped buoy us along.
You can visit our 2013 Le Mans race gallery: click here