Conway delighted to have achieved a dream
Conway delighted to have achieved a dream

Mike Conway has finally fulfilled a dream in winning the Le Mans 24 hour race, and he revealed that it was a mix of emotions as the chequered flag dropped and the dream became reality.

Although it wasn’t plain sailing for the defencing World Endurance Champion as the Number Seven Toyota developed a fuel management issue with six hours of the race still remaining, although it didn’t look like much was wrong from the outside

That wasn’t the case however, as speaking exclusively to Kent Sports News, Conway explains: “Well you say that, from the outside yes then maybe, but there were a lot of things throughout the race that we had to control. We had a few punctures at the beginning, one on the right rear and one on the rear left during my first stint. It means you have to stop earlier and that throws everything out of whack.

“Then we had this issue with the fuel pick-up for the last six hours, so yeah it was a bit touch and go. We weren’t really sure what was going to happen, but I guess from the outside it looked good. From the inside and a race like that there is a whole lot to go through and things to improve on, things never really stop on that side.”

With Mike not having won Le Mans before and having come close but for mechanical issues when the fuel pump issue happened, you could forgive Mike for thinking, ‘oh no here we go again’… but they worked together as a team to achieve the result they all wanted.

He added: “When I got out from my second to last stint, I kind of noticed that on the in lap, that one of our stints was a little bit short and I asked what was going on when I got back. They said they were having a problem with car eight first initially and then we started to notice it with us as well and I was like oh god here we go again.

“I was just hoping that it wasn’t going to get too much worse and we could fix it or maybe find a solution to keep going. Luckily the team managed to find a solution otherwise it would have been thirty minutes in the pits trying to fix it. I was pretty happy that they came up with a solution on the go and kept us running and got us to the end. All credit to all the guys in the background.”

There was a sense of relief among a number of emotions for all the guys, not just Mike, that have been involved in the project of trying to get the number seven Toyota to be a Le Mans winning car.

“I think for all of us not just the drivers, everyone involved with car seven the mechanics who come on every year and they hang on that little bit longer, they just want to be winners. It is a real team effort these races, it was good for everyone to have that weight lifted off of them and get rid of the bad luck.

“It was a really special feeling especially with the issues that we had all the way to the end. When the flag did drop at the end it was just a wash of emotions, it was hard to hold back the tears for a lot of people. I just let it all out.

“You know how hard it is to win Le Mans, not many people win it and you feel like you have missed out when you haven’t. It makes it all the more special when you do finally get it. It is a really good feeling and to tick that one off, there are still a few to tick off but that is one of the big ones, obviously as was winning the championship last year. I have got some real achievements and races that I have wanted for a long time, it is a really good feeling but it also makes you feel like you want some more.”

Mike definitely has a few more special targets and races that he wants to win and he is now moving forward with achieving those as well.

He said: “We still have the championship this year that we are leading now, so we want to win the championship obviously that is a target, and there are some other races that I want to win.

“Daytona 24, Seabring and there are a few more in the States, I have Petit Le Mans later in the year as well. I think we have a good chance of winning in America it isn’t with Toyota it is with another manufacturer. There are quite a few and until I get them I will keep going.”

For now it is a case of Mike having a bit of a break and then switching back into race mode to defend the World Endurance title for the remainder of the season and try to win it for a second year in a row.

He added: “It never stops really, I am going to enjoy a few weeks off though, you feel like you need it after these twenty four hour races, it is a good time to enjoy and savour it and in a couple of weeks get back on the horse.

“To be honest with you we are still working in the background anyway, we have got some simulator stuff to do following Le Mans and things like that, but it never really stops. I am just going to enjoy the bits in between and a bit more downtime.

“You need it as it catches up to you, it takes a while to recover fully but it has been a nice few days so far, catching up with friends and talking to people I haven’t heard from in a while. I have had a lot of nice messages from people so that has been nice as well.”

Images courtesy of https://psp-images.photoshelter.com

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