Brackley’s Anthony Davidson was a disappointed man despite finishing last weekend’s 82nd running of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race on the podium.
Driving for the Toyota Racing team, Davidson and his colleagues, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi, fought hard throughout a gruelling 2014 Le Mans race to claim third place at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.
Targeting victory, the current leaders of the FIA World Endurance Championship were dealt a bad hand shortly after the start of the race when a tropical rainstorm swept the French circuit.
Torrential rain fell on the track’s famous Mulsanne Straight and the number 8 TS040-Hybrid car was caught up in an accident with the number 3 Audi R18 and a GTE Ferrari. Although the crash put the Audi and Ferrari out of the contest, Nicolas Lapierre was able to drag the Toyota back to the pits for repairs and keep the car in the race.
Chances of victory were lost, but as other cars hit problems, Davidson and his team-mates were able to move back up the leaderboard. When the number 7 Toyota TS040-Hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima, Stephane Sarrazin and Alexander Wurz retired from the lead during the early hours of Sunday, the number 8 car became the marque’s flag bearer.
Fighting on determinedly, with Davidson clocking some fast times, the car moved into the top three when the Porsche 919-Hybrid of former F1 driver, Mark Webber, retired with powertrain failure just two hours from the end, securing a podium finish for Davidson and Toyota.
He said afterwards: “This is not the result we really wanted as Toyota came to Le Mans this year to win. The number 7 car led for much of the race until electrical problems ruled it out, and we had the crash early on which really ended hopes of victory there and then.
“Le Mans is a great race and I feel that this year was ours, but we just couldn’t grasp it. It’s always good to be on the podium here as the atmosphere is amazing and we must be pleased that we have scored good points towards the world championship.”
The number 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler took victory from Tom Kristensen, Lucas di Grassi and Marc Gene.