Former University of Buckingham student Marc Gene finished last weekend’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race at the wheel of the number 3 Audi R18 e-tron quattro in third position, writes James Beckett.
Sharing driving duties with Lucas di Grassi and Olly Jarvis, Gene’s car was always in the hunt for a top placing, although the number 3 machine never headed the race.
It was a difficult event for competitors, with action punctuated by a record number of Safety Car periods – including a lengthy one after only a handful of laps due to the fatal crash sustained by Aston Martin driver, Allan Simonsen, on lap four.
The accident cast a shadow over proceedings, but the race continued with Audi and Toyota cars providing a thrilling spectacle with their battle at the head of the field to the trackside crowd of over 275,000.
Gene’s car was moving into contention for the top spot when it sustained a puncture during early evening while Olly Jarvis was at the wheel.
However, Gene and his team-mates were determined not to let the opportunity of a podium finish slip away.
Each lap of the track was treated as a qualifier by the trio and the car was hauled back into contention, with Gene driving an all-important quad stint in the car during the night hours and through until dawn. At the fall of the chequered flag, the number 3 Audi was just one lap away from the winning car.
Afterwards, Gene said: “This has been a very hard race for us all. The accident early on was not nice for any of the competitors but the race continued and we all had an important job to do.
“Our car had some problems which slowed our progress and then Olly had a puncture and we also needed a small repair. We suffered some time loss with the tyres as well as the air temperature was cold at night. Time lost with these things certainly counted against us.
“I believe if we had managed a clean run throughout the race then we could have won, or been very close to winning. We were confident before the start and it was only really the puncture that started things going slightly wrong for us.”
Gene first raced at Le Mans in 2007, winning the race for Peugeot in 2009. He added: “Le Mans is a very special race and I enjoy driving here. I hope I will be back next year and I will be working with Audi over the next few weeks and months to try and agree a deal for me to again race for them in 2014 and beyond.”
Gene will be at Silverstone this weekend representing Scuderia Ferrari in his capacity as the Italian team’s official test and reserve driver, while also carrying out presenting roles for both Italian and Spanish television stations.