24h Le Mans
Andy Wallace and his 21 participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
After his victory in 1988 at the wheel of the Jaguar XJR9, Andy Wallace represented other big constructors such as Toyota, McLaren, Panoz and Bentley. He has participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a grand total of 21 times, the final appearance dating back to 2010 with Lola B08/80-HPD fielded by Ray Mallock Limited.
After your time with Jaguar (which ended in 1991), you worked with Toyota in 1992 and 1993…
"I joined Toyota in 1991, and I was doing testing for the year in Japan with their new car. And then Toyota allowed me to race with Jaguar one more time (fourth at the wheel of the #33 Jaguar XJR12 with Derek Warwick and John Nielsen, Ed.) because they were not racing [at the 24 Hours of Le Mans]. But what I noticed with the Toyota was this was new regulations, 750 kg, F1 V10 engines. The level of G for your head..I remember testing at Le Castellet. You know going on the long straight, and the corner at the end, uh actually on the Grand Prix circuit so not the long straight, so you arrive there at 328 km/h and the corner is completely without lift, just flat. And you arrive and you think it's not possible, so you lift and then the next time you lift, and lift again, and finally you make one flat and you realize it's easy but next time you lift again because you think it's not possible. In the middle of the corner you lose your mind (laughs, Ed.). And now I imagine the suspension. What is happening to the suspension? So for me, the level of grip on these cars was unbelievable."
1995 marked your arrival in GT with the #51 McLaren F1 GTR fielded by Harrodds Mach One Racing. You claimed the third step on the podium with Derek and Justin Bell…
"I know! With that race it was really unfortunate because we led I think maybe 10 or 12 hours of this race. And two hours before the end, we had a problem with the clutch. The clutch made lost us two positions and we finished third. It was one of those races we really thought we could win. It was a very nice car but with much less downforce, you know in 1995 it was raining a lot. On the straight there was a small river running across it every lap. But yeah it was a good car."
After two years with McLaren, you joined Panoz...
"Yes, we finished in seventh position I think with Panoz. It was a very good car but I think the engine was a little bit old-fashioned. So this was a problem. It was a good car...but so much noise, ugh. My ears...horrible (laughs, Ed.)!"
You drove for Jaguar, Toyota, Panoz and McLaren, then Audi and Bentley thereafter. Which car left the greatest impression?
"The Audi was fantastic, the Bentley was fantastic. I'm really lucky because I had so many good cars. When somebody asks me this question, I go back to the Toyota TS010, I think it was only because of the rules, 750 kg. that this car is number one. But the Bentley was - and the Audi - fantastic. So yeah it's difficult to choose one."
Are you proud of the career you've built with your victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans?
"It's true. And again, you have to be very lucky to have the right car, a good team with you. Particularly at Daytona because the track has much less distance and the cars are touching more and everything. It doesn't have the value of course of Le Mans, but the intensity I think is more (he won the race three times, in 1990 with Jaguar, and in 1997 and 1999 with a Riley & Scott, Ed.)."
Would you consider your win at the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans the peak of your career?
"I think so, just because it's the most important race and it was also very nice, we won LMP2 in 2006 (Ray Mallock Ltd.'s MG-Lola EX264-AER with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos, Ed.), this was also very nice. But yeah winning overall is the best. That's why I say with the McLaren it was so close and we lost.
"[The Le Mans Classic] is really, really wonderful. It is. Somebody asked me earlier today, 'well what's the difference between it and Goodwood?' and one of the big differences is you have the French flavor to this event. And this is really special. Anyway, this is for me...everybody says Spa is the best track in the world, and maybe it is, but this one is very close also. There is no other country where you can say 'hey I'm sorry, we're going to close this road...", most countries would say no, no chance. But in France it's possible. It is really special every time, I have a great time always here. It's always so difficult the race because it's long and it's fast with many slow cars in the way. But afterward for maybe one week when you're sleeping, all these things are coming back and you remember everything about Le Mans."
"It was special to drive the 1955 winner (Andy Wallace attended the 2016 Le Mans Classic to race the Jaguar Type D that triumphed at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ed.). It's unbelievable. In terms of driving, it is so different from a prototype car. The tires are like this, and you have good straight speed, no downforce. Absolutely no downforce. We think around 217 km/h top speed. It's really fast...but very difficult to control."
Andy Wallace's track record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans:
1988 : Jaguar XJR9 LM with Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries (win)
1989 : Jaguar XJR-9LM with John Nielsen and Price Cobb (retirement, engine)
1990 : Jaguar XJR-12 with Jan Lammers and Franz Konrad (second)
1991 : Jaguar XJR-12 with Derek Warwick and John Nielsen (fourth)
1992 : Toyota TS010 with Jan Lammers and Teo Fabi (eighth overall, fifth in C1)
1993 : Toyota TS010 with Pierre-Henri Raphanel and Kenny Acheson (retirement, transmission)
1995 : McLaren F1 GTR (Harrods Mach One Racing) with Derek Bell and Justin Bell (third overall, second in GT1)
1996 : McLaren F1 GTR (Harrods Mach One Racing) with Olivier Grouillard and Derek Bell (sixth overall, overall in GT1)
1997 : Panoz Esperante GTR-1 (David Price Racing) with James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger (retirement, engine)
1998 : Panoz Esperante GTR-1 (Panoz Motorsports) with David Brabham and Jamie Davies (seventh)
1999 : Audi R8C (Audi Sport UK Ltd) with James Weaver and Perry McCarthy (retirement, gearbox)
2000 : Cadillac Northstar LMP (Team Cadillac) with Franck Lagorce and Butch Leitzinger (21st overall, 11th in LMP 900)
2001: Bentley EXP Speed 8 with Eric van de Poele and Butch Leitzinger (third overall, first in LM GTP)
2002 : Bentley EXP Speed 8 with Eric van de Poele and Butch Leitzinger (fourth overall, first in LM GTP)
2003 : Dome S101-Judd (Racing for Holland) with Jan Lammers and John Bosch (sixth overall, fourth in LMP900).
2004 : Zytek 04S (Zytek Engineering) with David Brabham and Hayanari Shimoda (retirement, fire breakout)
2005 : DBA 03S-Judd (Creation Autosportif) with Nicolas Minassian and Jamie Campbell-Walter (11th overall, seventh in LMP1)
2006 : MG-Lola EX264-AER (Ray Mallock Ltd) with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos (eighth overall, first in LMP2)
2007 : MG-Lola EX264-AER (Ray Mallock Ltd) with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos (retirement, piston)
2008 : MG-Lola EX265-AER (Ray Mallock Ltd) with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos (retirement, incident)
2010 : Lola B08/80-HPD (Ray Mallock Ltd) with Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos (eighth overall, third in LMP2)
PHOTOS (Christian Vignon, Archives/ACO): The #8 Toyota TS010 (1992), the #51 McLaren F1 GTR (1995) and the MG-Lola EX264-AER (2006) for a win in the LMP2 class.