Richard Lloyd Q&A

Sixteen years ago Richard Lloyd's Porsche 956 finished second at Le Mans with Jonathan Palmer, sportscar rookie James Weaver and the team boss himself sharing driving chores. However, this year's third place for Bentley meant even more to Lloyd, who kick-started the project and masterminded its progress. A stalwart of the VW/Audi group for more than 25 years (he owned the UK's first Golf GTi!), Lloyd saw the company's acquisition of the Bentley marque as the ideal basis for a Le Mans operation. To a large degree the team has its roots in the unsuccessful Audi R8C project that backed up the open works cars at Le Mans two years ago, but apart from the engine, the Bentley is not related to the winning cars, and is very much a British project. The only problem the team encountered was the weather, which played havoc with the gearbox electronics on both cars and led to the retirement of the number seven entry of Martin Brundle, Guy Smith and Stephane Ortelli. Adam Cooper spoke to Lloyd after the race

Richard Lloyd Q&A

"All the time in the lead up when asked what our aspirations were, I never mentioned the word podium. Finish was the word. In fact we established that position fairly early on, and the pressure became even worse, because once you'd got there you think you've got to hold on to it. Despite a very few glitches the car was absolutely fantastic. I'm just sorry for the other crew, who really didn't deserve that. It was simply the weather."

"We only had 25 days of testing before the event in total, and only one day of that was wet, and that was only drizzle at Magny-Cours. Had we come across this torrential rain that we encountered here, straight away we would have found out that the water was going straight over this actuator, and droplets were falling into it. It's just in front of the rear wheel, but inside the bodywork. There's a NACA duct feeding air to cool it down, and of course it also fed water. We didn't know that, and of course then we discovered it. The fix during the race was a plastic cap from a 1.5-litre mineral water bottle. We put a little slit in it and popped it on the top on car number eight. That's what preparation is all about, but we just didn't find it. Apart from that there was absolutely no problem. We didn't even change pads."

"It would do all sort of strange things. It would miss downshifts, and it would then get stuck in top, and then it would clear itself. The telemetry people couldn't identify it exactly, so we let Martin try and figure it out himself. We kept on talk back all the time, and he kept trying this switch or that switch, seeing what difference it made. In the end it just beat us. Guy just hadn't been there before, in that position. He reacted very enthusiastically and did everything he thought he should be doing, but it didn't work out. There were one or two things that a more experienced driver might have done, but Guy did a terrific job. In fact the whole squad was terrific. Unfortunately Stephane didn't get to drive, but we know how good Martin is. Those early laps were just fabulous."

"It was an unfortunate combination of things. The car got stuck in sixth gear because of this problem, and then he was trying to get round Arnage in sixth but obviously couldn't, so he burned the clutch out. Then it stopped, still in sixth. He cut the engine, and tried to fire it up. He probably had the wrong firing up mod on, and it just went from bad to worse, and the car didn't move."

"Yes, it's just another niggling thing that in a closed car you'd think you wouldn't be affected by. But we know now."

"A fair bit, because the number eight car came in a few times unexpectedly, and we just had no way of knowing. It's an age-old problem, and it's one that you just will not find out unless you've tested. And this has been a very good test session. The wet tyres were brilliant all the way through."

"I can't believe that any professional racing driver would overtake four cars under a yellow, which is what Eric was alleged to have done. I don't know how they figured out, but four minutes it was. Fortunately we had enough of a cushion that there was no point in protesting it. We would in normal conditions, because we don't think that was the case. It spiced the whole thing up a bit, and the reaction of the crowd was fantastic."

"I asked somebody how it compared with Jaguar's first year, and they said it was a million times better. And it will build up. I just love that, and I think it's absolutely fantastic."

"I keep saying that it's such a beautiful car, such a well-engineered car, it deserves to be seen. I think you'll find that the market forces will indicate that it will be seen more. But our real goal, and we make no bones about it, is to win this event."

"We hope it doesn't rain for a start! The last two really wet races were 1992 and 1995. Some people say it goes in three-year cycles. We can't rely on that, but as I say this has been a really good test session. If we came here tomorrow we could fix it all and have two cars in the top six."

"No, it was brilliant. And a very young team as well."

"No. I think two is manageable, and really three is a real headache."

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