Allen relives ‘childhood dream’ Le Mans class win

James Allen (second from left) on the Le Mans podium

Australian James Allen lived his childhood dream by standing on the top step of the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday.

The 25-year-old won the LMP2 Pro-Am class in the #45 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 Gibson he shared with Steven Thomas and Rene Binder.

Having entrenched himself in the sportscar racing scene, Allen has been a quiet achiever in Europe making his way up the ranks to the pinnacle: victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This year’s race marked Allen’s fifth start at Circuit de la Sarthe, all of which have come in LMP2 machinery.

However, the weekend didn’t start without adversity.

“It really was a massive team effort, we’d had a crash in FP1 which led to a total rebuild of the car,” said Allen.

“That meant our mechanics spent all Wednesday night rebuilding the car. They did a fantastic job and we were able to get out in FP3 on Thursday with no further issues with the car whatsoever.

“That, combined with them staying up for the whole race making sure our pitstops were perfect as well as our engineers staying on top of the strategy for 24 hours straight is something that will always amaze me.

“I can’t thank them enough for this entire week.

“I’m definitely very proud to be able to say I’ve won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was a kid and now to have done it feels incredible.”

The #45 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 Gibson

Having missed qualifying due to the rebuild, Allen had the challenge of starting from the back of the grid on Saturday with the whole field in front of him.

“I’d spent a lot of time leading up to the race thinking about how I was going to go about getting past 30 GTE cars as quickly as I could,” he reflected.

“Unfortunately, the yellows at the start slowed my progress a bit but the car felt great and I still managed to get past them in just under two laps, then I focused on moving up to the LMP2s.

“By the end of the stint I was able to get past two of them and close in on the rest of the pack.

“After taking the lead in the night, we were able to extend that lead to over two laps going into the morning.”

Perth native Allen and co-drivers Thomas and Binder were dominant from that point forward right until the chequered flag, winning by a lap over the next car.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is the 6 Hours of Monza on July 10.

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