The American outfit, based in Atlanta, Georgia, has been preparing for this moment for the past four years when team owners/drivers David and Andrea Robertson first set out on the road to Le Mans via the American Le Mans Series. Now their self-developed #68 Doran/Ford GT Mk VII returns to its forbearer’s ancestral home and scene of the Blue Oval’s most celebrated achievement in motorsport: the four consecutive overall victories of the 1960s.
Long-time ALMS co-driver and Le Mans 24 Hours veteran David Murry completes the GTE-Am trio that faces its toughest examination so far. In a class awash with manufacturer-backed entries, just finishing the great race will feel like a victory in itself.
Despite completing just one day’s worth of running at La Sarthe this year, the 13.65km part road, part purpose-built circuit will come to resemble a home from home over the next ten days. Official scrutineering kicks off this Sunday before cars hit the track for the first time on Wednesday with free practice and first qualifying. Two more qualifying sessions are scheduled for Thursday ahead of Saturday’s 3pm start. Sandwiched between is the Le Mans Drivers’ Parade, a celebration in the town centre that gives fans a chance to meet all 168 competitors.
Team Manager Andrew ‘H’ Smith: “It’s great to be back at Le Mans which has moved on a lot since I was last here. It was important to do the official Test Day beforehand and re-familiarize ourselves with the way they do things. Obviously we’re disappointed not to have the second car on the grid but that has at least meant we can focus all our efforts on the #68. There are two lots of mechanics working on it so we won’t be short of experience.
“It would be a fantastic result to finish the greatest race in the world. That would be a terrific achievement for the entire team, as well as Dave and Andrea of course. We will do all we can to make the finish. This might be a private team but we’ve got some of the most accomplished guys in the paddock who are desperate to show what they and the car can do."
Robertson Racing’s second Ford GT remains first reserve on the official entry list. But even at this late stage Smith would not rule out running it should the opportunity arise, however unlikely that now appears.
“Time is very tight but should someone not turn up we would have a serious discussion about whether we could be ready in time. The second car is still here from the Test Day and its drivers have qualified but logistically it would be very difficult. We’re still seeking clarification from the ACO."
European viewers can catch this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours live on Eurosport while the SPEED TV channel will carry live coverage in North America (check websites for listings). Full commentary of each session can also be found at www.radiolemans.com throughout the week.