Bobby Verdon-Roe

I sit here at six in the morning having woken early again and I still can't quite get my head round what we achieved at last weekend's Spa 24 Hours. In Lister's first attempt at the round-the-clock Belgian classic, we scored a superb second place

Bobby Verdon-Roe

My excellent Spanish team-mate Miguel de Castro described the way the car felt after his first stint. "Oh my gad. The car eese Massive, man. I kant beleeve it." (Put on appropriate Spanish accent whilst reading that for maximum effect). And so it remained. After 24 hours, 3,700-odd kilometres and 22,000 gear changes, I was able to pop in an easy 2m23s lap in the last hour before backing off. A new set of brakes and she'd do 2m18s, I'm sure of it.

OK, so I finished my first 24 hour race and managed a podium. Great for me personally, but I am particularly proud of everyone at Lister who were the surprise of the race by running second and third at the 21 hour mark. Everyone knows about team boss Laurence Pearce and what a "lap time junkie" he is, but a lot of people doubted we would make the six hour mark. Well, see ya later. Sorry. I've obviously been spending too much time with him.

I'm just one of the nuts behind the wheel, but I do appreciate how much everyone put in to get this result. Simply a brilliant job. And obviously none of it would have happened in the first place without that maniac Pearce at the helm.

The race itself? Took it easy in the first hour, especially on the brakes and stayed off the kerbs. Was in the lead at the one hour mark because the other five cars ahead pitted before me. Everyone did well in their first stints, then my engineer Bicks double stinted me to try and get us up the order at the six hour mark and we moved to fourth. Not bad. So far so good. My other team-mates Justin Law and David Sterckx were doing incredibly good jobs considering they hadn't even tested the car, and Miguel was getting in the groove having not been to Spa before or done much racing this year.

Poor David was out for three hours behind the safety car, and the next thing I know we'd made the 12 hour mark and were lying third. Sleep? No chance. I lay down and closed my eyes but I couldn't stop listening to the commentary and every time I heard "voiture numero quinze" or "David", that was it, wide awake again.

I got back in the car at dawn, and what a wonderful double stint to drive. It was simply a pleasure to drive such a good car at such an awesome circuit. We were particularly strong through the mega quick corners, Eau Rouge and Blanchimont (150 mph minimum speed) which are a thrill to look forward to each lap. And so it went on, the car not missing a beat and not really even needing a pad change.

The only major incident of the race was when we did a precautionary rear pad change whilst David was in the car. Apparently it had been like yanking on the hand brake and he spun into the gravel. We lost four laps. We had already lost two earlier, so you could say that without those mistakes we could have won... Ifs and buts, eh?

After nearly 21 hours things were looking good for both Listers. Second and third would have been fantastic for the teams' championship and obviously Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nicolaus Springer in the other car would have been right up there in the drivers' standings. But then disaster struck. Everyone was tired and emotional by then, but for the other car to be excluded for a pitlane infringement after 21 hours... well no wonder there were some very upset Lister people around. I felt it too, but knew I had to focus on what I still had to do.

There had been moments during the night when my thoughts had got carried away. The Kumpen shunt, the Babini shunt, the race seemed to be coming to us, anything was possible. And then I had to tell myself to calm down, stop thinking such thoughts, just concentrate.

Andy Wallace said something really nice to me before he left. At the end of the day, if you can earn a bit of respect from your fellow drivers, the ones who really know what's going on out there, to me that is one of the greatest satisfactions. And if that person has done the thing you most want to do, win Le Mans, then so much the better.

So I tried to keep my mind on the job. I wanted to get infront of the Freisinger Porsche, just in case Larbre hit problems. Miguel and I clawed back two laps and we had done it, P2 overall. Then I double-stinted to the end. The last quarter of an hour was bizarre. We were all cruising around going slower and slower, and now my mind really did start wandering. I thought of my father, how proud he would have been. I was in a bit of a state, actually, and could barely talk on the radio.

I saw the TVR boys cheering on the F1 pit wall, and then I rounded La Source for the last time. I cruised across the line and saw the Lister crowd going mad. What a moment.

If you ever want to lose weight, do a 24 hour race with Lister. Three kilos, I lost. Unbelievable. The whole weekend was unbelievable. Not a single puncture. The Dunlops were superb.What were the odds on car no.15 finishing second, five laps down on the no.1 Larbre car? I wish I had placed a bet...

Spa 24 Hours: Larbre takes second win

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