Yves Courage – Man Of Courage
(With Significant Plans For 2005)
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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."
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.
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.
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.”
team interested may contact Yves Courage, by e-mail, telephone or
Tél : +33 02.43.39.24.24
Fax +33 02.43.39.24.25
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!