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Campbell: Victorious Le Mans performance ‘hard to believe’

Mat Coch

Monday 18th June, 2018 - 12:47pm

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Matt Campbell celebrates victory at Le Mans with co-drivers Christian Ried, Julian Andlauer, and team owner Patrick Dempsey

Matt Campbell has admitted his team’s drive to victory in the LMGTE-Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is ‘hard to believe’.

Event debutant Campbell starred in the French classic, spearheading the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR entry with Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer.

The trio led their class for much of the race, putting in a commanding performance that saw them finish 1m39.044s ahead of the second placed Spirit of Race Ferrari driven by Giancarlo Fisichella.

A victory in sportscar’s most prestigious race will rank as the best accolade achieved by the 23-year-old Queenslander in his burgeoning career to date.

“Obviously the race went fantastically,” said Campbell.

“We held the lead from about 5:30pm yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, which is really hard to believe.

“The car was mega all race. It was absolutely perfect. No mistakes, no contact, nothing like that. Julien and Christian did a fantastic job the whole race. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity.

“It’s only my debut here, my second year in Europe and my second year with Porsche, so I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s something crazy.”

It proved a learning experience for Campbell, who was forced to manage faster traffic throughout the race.

“It’s quite difficult for us to manage traffic, not to lose too much time ourselves and not fight too much, because you don’t want to get (tyre) pick-up or anything like that,” he explained.

“Ferrari’s pace in the race was matching us all race. We got lucky there at the start of the race with a couple of Safety Cars.

“We were able to really manage that (lead) throughout the whole race, which was quite surprising because obviously in GTE-Am there is a lot of diversity in the driver line-ups.

“They were always there, the two Ferraris – I think it was #84 and #85 – for the whole race.

“It went perfectly. I can’t express what it feels like, that’s for sure.”

Team boss Patrick Dempsey was thrilled with his squad’s performance, especially that of Campbell.

“These young drivers, their first time here, with so many drivers, they just had a level of class in their driving,” Dempsey said.

“Matt was on the radio and he was just really calm and knew what he had to do. He just had this look in his eye and I was like ‘this guy is the real deal’.

“These are young stars emerging and we are a part of it …

“I’m lost for words. Everyone did a fantastic job, it was a victory for the whole team.

“The race was incredible, we made no mistakes and our work was rewarded with this great success. I can’t tell you how incredibly proud and happy I am for Porsche, too.”

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