MW Motorsport put in a stoic performance at the 80th 24 Hours of Le Mans which saw them retire just after the 16 hour mark. The Ferrari 458, dubbed the Angry Wasp for its striking yellow and black livery courtesy of the Dunlop Art Car Competition, suffered the terminal sting in the tail of a driveshaft issue at around 05:30am.
Up until the retirement the team’s plan had been ticking like clockwork. With drivers James Walker (GB), Jonny Cocker (GB) and Roger Wills (NZ) all enjoying solid and trouble free stints, the team were well positioned with the time honoured Le Mans strategy of stay out of trouble and keep going!
Jonny Cocker, who started the race for the team, noted “Throughout the week the car was improving and we were making good progress. We were fortunate to have a car in which all the drivers felt happy, confident and inspired for the race. Le Mans is a case of taking it systematically, stint by stint. I had the big weight on my shoulders of starting the race for the team but all went well and we were immediately into comfortable running. The car was running perfectly and all was going to plan. The team did a great a job”.
Never has the word ‘uneventful’ been so gratefully received but with each uneventful stint, and running 6th in the LM GTE Pro class, the team’s confidence grew.
The car’s Dunlop tyres performed to the highest level, the team electing medium compounds for the day and soft for the night run. Not only were the Dunlop tyres able to double stint with ease but a triple stint through the night ran exceptionally well.
As the sun rose over Le Sarthe it was James Walker at the wheel. James said “We were continuing to tick away, minding our own business! We had a great, quick pitstop and I went out for the next section of my double stint, the car continuing to feel great so you can imagine the shock when I went to brake and something broke! I was at Mulsanne, and after communicating the situation back to the team it was quickly apparent that it was a driveshaft issue and sadly despite the efforts of all it would mean the end of our race. Everyone in the team has done us proud. This was my first Le Mans and, people had told me, you cannot appreciate the atmosphere until you are there. I can hardly describe it, I have never experience anything like it before! The atmosphere just builds throughout the week and by the grid walk I was speechless. I would like to thank everyone for their support, it has been phenomenal”.
Roger Wills also praised the team “I have had a great time with the team, though naturally I am very disappointed we didn’t finish after an unfortunate mechanical issue. The team have been great to work with and, are very professional. Jonny and James were extremely helpful and all in all it has been a great week. In the race I found I settled into the car very quickly and I was pleased with my stints”.
Team Manager Tim Sugden commented afterwards “We didn’t see that coming! That’s the best summary! The car didn’t have the smallest problem through the test and race. It was such a shame as there was no way to get the car back despite some valiant efforts by the lads. The team did themselves proud this weekend, as they always do. Roger was a super addition to the team and of course, James and Jonny loved the experience”.
Team Principle Jim McWhirter summed up this year’s Le Mans adventure “We had some crew changes quite last minute and I’d like to make special mention for those team members not with us this year with congratulations to Sharon and Davey and the birth of their lovely daughter, Elizabeth. And also to Carl who broke his arm just before we left – get well soon!
“It was a disappointment not to finish after all the effort put in by the team in the last 2 weeks. Roger, James and Jonny formed a strong bond and performed well.
(Image: Gerlach Delissen)