Porsche enjoyed an outstanding year in 2007 with its bright yellow RS Spyders; coming into this final race, Petit Le Mans, the little Spyders were punching well above their weight. Not only did they already have the LMP2 championship sewed up, they had beaten the larger and faster LMP1 Audi R10s time and again, with the big cars unable to nab an overall victory in any of the last eight races. Only the drivers’ championship remained to be resolved, and that was between two Penske Spyder teams, Dumas and Bernhard vs. Massen and Briscoe.
At the time, I was experimenting with a somewhat unusual second camera, inexpensive and quite small; it would mate with my usual array of lenses, although it was ill-suited for racing action photography. In the pits, however, it was adequate and useful: mounting a wider angle zoom for shots in tight spaces, it could be in action quickly and avoided some of the need for lens changes, which could result in missed shots.
A few minutes before the start of the race, with Timo Bernhard settled into his #7 Spyder, I held the little camera over his head and shot the image you see above. Unable to compose or focus, it was a “Hail Mary” situation, dependent on experience, equipment, and luck in the moments before they cleared the grid for the start.
The race proceeded with the LMP 1 Audis and LMP 2 Porsches swapping the lead multiple times, but the Audi was ahead on the last lap. Dumas made his own Hail Mary play, closing on the Audi in the dark during that final chase around the track. He was less than a second behind when the 12 hour clock ran down, for the closest finish in the history of the event. But I expect that his disappointment was blunted a bit by his knowledge that he and Bernhard (with help in this race from Patrick Long as a third driver) had secured their championship, and that Porsche had beaten Audi outright in points over the season.
Too bad there was no trophy for that!