It was something extraordinary when the #34 Inter Europol Competition Oreca took the chequered flag at the centenary edition of the 24 hours of Le Mans. It was the Polish-based team’s first victory at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe and in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the pinnacle of sportscar racing.
Such a historic victory is never easy, but the team and drivers Kuba Śmiechowski, Fabio Scherer, and Albert Costa Balboa moved to the front of the field and dominated large portions of the 24-hour event before taking the well-deserved and hard-fought win.
“It’s a very special day for everybody,” founder Wojciech Śmiechowski said. “Especially for people here from the beginning that perhaps did not expect to be here at Le Mans someday, and even if they did, they would not have expected to win this race someday! We have achieved this together over many years, and it is always collective work, not one or three people. The whole team has responsible people from so many areas.”
The journey to the ultimate prize has been one of continuous improvement, and for team manager Sascha Fassbender, the win was part of a process involving so many individuals that make for a great team.
“We started the endurance project in 2016 and obviously I wanted to go to Le Mans to win it, something I wished for, but I never expected it to happen to be honest,” he said. “Today, everything was perfect; the team did an amazing job, all the mechanics executing what they have done for months and months before with no mistakes. Everyone is a vital cog in the whole machine.
“It’s been an amazing two days and it was a tough race; we had to stay out of trouble. The weather was unexpected, and it was so easy to make a mistake. Fabio and Albert did a fantastic job in those conditions to keep the car on track and that is why we were able to win.
“Also because of the great team. Today everything was executed as it should be and at the end of the day it’s beautiful that everyone could contribute to where we are now.”