Pedro Lamy is a major player in Endurance racing. With 18 participations, he has the distinction of representing Viper, Mercedes, Peugeot and particularly Aston Martin with whom he competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times. Here is an intimate interview with the Portuguese driver.
You debuted in 1997 with a Porsche 911 GT1 (third in GT1). Tell us about that experience.
"I had just come from single-seaters. I left F1 (Minardi Team, Ed.) in 1996 and in June of 1997 I was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I infiltrated a world I knew nothing about, having never even been to Le Mans. I found it all quite incredible: a really great track, the high speeds reached in the straights and taking some of the turns like Indianapolis or the Porsche curves. I was truly thrilled to be there and impressed by the entire atmosphere."
You then joined a factory team through Mercedes...
"Exactly, but before that in 1998 I competed at the wheel of a Viper GTS-R. The following year, with Mercedes, two cars caught air the same day (one on Saturday morning during the warm-up and another in the race, Ed.). Mine remained unscathed. That Mercedes CLR was really a fantastic car. It was a great experience for me, the first in a team that big, very professional. I stayed with Mercedes after that and participated in two seasons of DTM (with Team Rosberg, Ed.)."
It doesn't get any better than when I was driving for Peugeot!Pedro Lamy
Then a long history began with Peugeot...
"I came back in 2001 with ORECA and the Chrysler LMP. It was my first experience in prototypes and that helped me with Peugeot a few years later. I worked with the marque for five years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and competed in the Le Mans Series as well. Peugeot represented the summit for me, It doesn't get any better than when I was driving for Peugeot! It was a huge team, very professional. I had a lot of responsibilities within the team, it was wonderful. I claimed the second step on the podium twice, we came so close to winning. But that's motorsport."
"After that long period with Peugeot, I returned to GT in 2013, with Aston Martin, for whom I had driven in 2005 and 2006 in GT1. Prior to that in 2012, I participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Larbre Compétition team (Corvette C6.R, Ed.). We won, with Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser, the LMGTE Am class. Since I've been with Aston Martin, we too have been poised to win our class but it hasn't happened. We are a solid team and have had quite a few victories in the World Endurance Championship. We even won the Endurance Drivers and Teams Trophy in 2017! I've been involved in the evolution of GT1, GT2 and now GTE. GT races are getting better and better, whether in Am or in Pro in which there are so many big constructors."
What is your best memory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
"The best moment in a race is always the win. So I'll say my victory in LMGTE Am with Larbre Compétition. Also, I get along very well with Jack (Leconte, Ed.). I'll also include my first race with Peugeot. In 2007, it was the first participation for the 908 HDi FAP in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I have to say we were not expecting such a result. Certainly we had done quite a few simulations and testing sessions, but we finshed second. For us, it was like winning!"
And the worst?
"When we were forced to retire in 1999 with Mercedes, that was a difficult moment to process. The car was really good, we were a contender for the win. It's always frustrating to have to retire when the car itself has had no problems (after Peter Dumbreck's incident in the #5 Mercedes, the German marque pulled its cars, Ed.). Six hours in, our pace was on point. I love the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I have had great moments there, but it can also be a very challenging race. You're on your way to a good result, but it doesn't come to fruition! For example, in 2017, we were in the battle for the win in LMGTE Am with Aston Martin, but a flat tire ruined everything. That was a huge disappointment for us."
Which car impressed you the most?
"The Peugeot 908 is without a doubt the best car I was able to drive at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was extremely fast and solid."
You've mentioned Larbre Compétition and Jack Leconte several times. At the last 24 Hours of Le Mans, you congratulated him for the pole in LMGTE Am. What's your relationship with him like?
"I like Jack a lot, and also his entire team. We get along really well. Larbre Compétition is kind of like a second family for me. I've spent so much time with some of the team members that they've become friends, like Jack for example."
Pedro Lamy's track record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans:
1997 : Porsche 911 GT1 (Schübel Engineering) with Armin Hahne and Patrice Goueslard (5th overall, 3rd in GT1)
1998 : Chrysler Viper GTS-RGT (Viper Team ORECA) with Olivier Beretta and Tommy Archer (13th overall, 2nd in GT2)
1999 : Mercedes-Benz CLR (AMG-Mercedes) with Bernd Schneider and Franck Lagorce (retirement, car withdrawn)
2001 : Chrysler LMP (Team PlayStation) with Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger (4th overall, 3rd in LMP900)
2002 : Dallara SP1-Judd PlayStation (Team ORECA) with Olivier Beretta and Erik Comas (5th overall, 4th in LMP900)
2005 : Aston Martin DBR9 (Aston Martin Racing) with Peter Kox and Tomáš Enge (retirement, ran out of fuel)
2006 : Aston Martin DBR9 (Aston Martin Racing) with Stéphane Sarrazin and Stéphane Ortelli (10th overall, 5th in GT1)
2007 : Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Team Peugeot Total) with Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Bourdais LMP1 (2nd)
2008 : Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Team Peugeot Total) with Stéphane Sarrazin and Alexander Wurz (5th)
2009 : Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Team Peugeot Total) with Nicolas Minassian and Christian Klien (6th)
2010 : Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Peugeot Sport Total) with Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud (retirement)
2011 : Peugeot 908 (Team Peugeot Total) avec Sébastien Bourdais et Simon Pagenaud (2e)
2012 : Chevrolet Corvette C6.R (Larbre Compétition) with Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal (20th overall, 1st in LMGTE Am)
2013 : Aston Martin Vantage (Aston Martin Racing) with Paul Dalla Lana and Bill Auberlen (retirement, engine failure)
2014 : Aston Martin Vantage GTE (Aston Martin Racing) with Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard (26th overall, 6th in LMGTE Am)
2015 : Aston Martin Vantage GTE (Aston Martin Racing) with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda (unranked)
2016 : Aston Martin Vantage GTE (Aston Martin Racing) with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda (unranked)
2017 : Aston Martin Vantage GTE (Aston Martin Racing) with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda (36th overall, 8th in LMGTE Am)
PHOTOS (Copyright - Archives/ACO): The 1999 Mercedes, the 2011 #9 Peugeot 908 and the 2012 Corvette C6.R (the year of Lamy's win in LMGTE Am).