Yves Courage – Man Of Courage
(With Significant Plans For 2005)

Two weeks after the 72nd Le Mans 24 Hours, which was preceded by a very eventful period before the meeting even began for the Frenchman’s team, and before heading for the Nurburgring, for the second round of the LMES, Yves Courage – despite a very busy timetable - kindly agreed to assess the Le Mans race, to speak about the balance of the season and about prospects for 2005 – writes Claude Foubert.

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What can you tell us about team’s effort at the 24 Hours?
Y.C.: “Under the circumstances, which you already know, to reach a high level performance with a chassis-engine package made in a single week only, that was very satisfactory. We have been rewarded for the hard work we completed during this week and the team had a chance to prove its high competitiveness.

“The lap times set by Jean-Marc Gounon in qualifying have proven the huge potential of the car. Jean-Marc had to demonstrate what it could do, and he carried out his task well. He thought, and I did so too, that he could have been even quicker.

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"For the race, the aim was not the same. We wanted to finish the race, and I asked the AER engine people for a ‘softer’ engine, less powerful – about 60 bhp less, but above all, reliable. Fate decided otherwise, and if the official statement of the retirement is “engine”, it was due to a rare incident, a sparking plug having made contact with the cylinder head. The engine itself performed extremely well.

dailysportscar.com“In the early stages, Gounon had set out to complete a double stint, saving the tyres, and was surprised how easily he could follow most of the LMP1s without pushing hard, so he ran a third stint. Sam Hancock had a great start with the team. Though he is very young, he is very quick and professional. Moreover, he knows Jean-Marc very well. Both of them drove a Kremer Lola in the FIASCC championship in 2002. Alexander Frei, for his part, was very steady and did good stints, especially at night. So, I am pleased with the performance in the race, very pleased."

Who will be the drivers for the Nurburgring?
Y.C.: “We’ll have the same line-up as in Le Mans. As I said, I was pleased with the drivers’ performance. After the Nurburgring, we’ll race in the last two rounds of the LMES too.”

Will you again be racing in the LMP2 category next year?
Y.C.: “As a manufacturer, yes. As an entrant, no. Courage Compétition is not intended to race against its customers, but to help and to support them with the best efficiency. We already have a good relationship this year with Paul Belmondo. For instance, we have lent him a chassis for the Nurburgring, his car having been too badly damaged at Le Mans to race in Germany. Next year, Courage Compétition will race in the LMP1 category."

What car will it be?
Y.C.: “The question is open. An open car or a closed car, we haven’t decided yet. For this car, the name will begin with the letters LC (L for Liliane, Courage’s wife who died last December). We are studying both possibilities very closely. From an aesthetic point of view, a closed car is more stunning, but first of all we have to worry about the efficiency.

Yves Courage's company has a history of designing and building both closed and open cars of course. Here we see the stunning 1987 Cougar C20 which finished third overall, and Mario Andretti in the 1995 Courage C34 that so nearly won the 24 Hours.

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"It will depend of course on funding. For our future, we have to sell our LMP2s. We are already in touch with some teams, but we are ready to examine others. We would like to close that before the end of the summer, to prepare ourselves for 2005, in the
best condition possible.”

dailysportscar.comAny team interested may contact Yves Courage, by e-mail, telephone or fax:
karine-bowyer.courage@wanadoo.fr
Tél : +33 02.43.39.24.24
Fax +33 02.43.39.24.25

Y.C.: “We’re also going to have an Historic Car department for our older cars for the Group C events.”

So, much work for Yves Courage, a really tireless fellow, in spite all the ordeals he has endured since last winter. We have to thank him very much for his warm welcome and his kindness. We wish him and his team a bright future – full of more hard work!
Claude Foubert

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