Kirkcaldy’s Jonny Adam on top of the world after historic Le Mans 24 victory

Jonny Adam (centre) holds aloft the Le Mans 24 Hour trophy flanked by his team mates.
Jonny Adam (centre) holds aloft the Le Mans 24 Hour trophy flanked by his team mates.

In an achievement to rival Fife’s all-time sporting greats, the likes of Jocky Wilson, Jim Baxter and Jim Clark, Kirkcaldy’s Jonny Adam fulfilled every racing driver’s dream on Sunday by claiming a famous victory in the Le Mans 24 Hour.

The world’s most iconic endurance race is ranked alongside the Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix as one of motorsport’s Triple Crown, and is watched by millions across the globe.

Jonny Adam (Kirkcaldy) wins Le Mans 24 Hr, 2017

Jonny Adam (Kirkcaldy) wins Le Mans 24 Hr, 2017

And the former Balwearie High School pupil wrote his name into the history books by guiding his Aston Martin V8 Vantage to victory in the GTE Pro class in one of the most dramatic endings to a Le Mans 24, having snatched the lead on the final lap.

The achievement, and the manner of it, has made worldwide news, and the ecstatic 32-year-old told the Press: “I don’t think it’s sunk in.

“It was an epic battle, and when I crossed the line, I just cried.

“It means a lot to me personally to win – it’s a dream just to do Le Mans let alone win it – but for a brand manufacturer such as Aston Martin, to win that race is huge, huge news. It’s the World Cup of GT racing.

“When I parked the car up and celebrated with the team and my family, it was very emotional, but very special. It’s something I’ll never forget for rest of my life.”

Words cannot do justice to the sheer drama that unfolded in the final few laps at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Anyone who has not watched the breathtaking Eurosport footage of Jonny battling, and then overtaking, the Corvette of Jordan Taylor is advised to do so.

It’s a clip that is sure to be repeated time and again as one of motorsport’s golden moments.

Jonny shared the driving duties, and the victory, with team mates Darren Turner and Daniel Serra but the Fifer’s contribution to the final few laps will be remembered most.

“I’ve always idolised people that have won Le Mans,” Jonny explained. “I always thought I could do it, but I didn’t ever think I could win it in that situation.

“I just refused to give up where some people would have conceded and saw second place as good enough.

“Sometimes in life you might never get an opportunity again, and I would never want to look back and think ‘what if’ in 10 years time. What if I was a bit riskier and took it to him?

“I just wouldn’t back down, and when he made the mistake, I was there to take my chance.

“The spirit of Le Mans is all about racing fair, racing hard, but racing for 24 hours and even the organisers thanked us as a team for putting on the show we did.

“It’s worldwide news in motorsport now. It might never happen again where a fight will go as close as that, but it was special to be invovled in it.

“The coolest thing is seeing what it means to people, and the emotion from grown men who have been in the sport for 20 or 30 years. You’ve done it for them.

“There’s no individual that wins Le Mans. It’s every single person on that team, and it’s a long hard process to get there.”

As the only Scot in the event, Jonny was flying the flag for the nation and his success places him among the motorsport greats who have represented the country.

“It’s not happened often where there’s only been one Scot at Le Mans so that brought some added pressure,” he said.

“There was also extra pressure because I was in the car for the last two hours of the race.

“My team mates had done a great job to put the car in the situation that we could fight for the victory.

“The pressure was quite intense but I thought to myself – you need to do this.

“Here’s an opportunity to show to the world what you can do, but also what this manufacturer can achieve at this race.

“In our last fuel stop we came out of the pit lane just half a car length behind the Corvette, and the engineer said the coolest thing all weekend – ‘Jonny, the car in front is to win Le Mans. You have to pass that car.’

“That was it. It was game on.

“The key was to keep him in my sight but the cars were so evenly matched. We were both doing the same speed.

“In my head I was thinking, wait for a mistake, but this guy, Jordan Taylor, was renowned for not making mistakes.

“He had already won the 24 hours of Daytona and 24 of Sebring, and was going for a hat-trick.

“For the last three or four laps I was close enough to make a move, and kept thinking, you can’t finish second at Le Mans. Nobody remembers runners-up.

“There was a manouvre I tried to make work, I got by, there was a little bit of contact, and he got away again with a six or seven car lengths gap.

“Then on the second last lap down the back straight, he made a big error, out-braked himself and flat-spotted his tyre. I thought, ‘there’s a chance here, he’s struggling with the car’.

“I closed right onto the back of him, then I saw the left front tyre he’d locked up delaminate slightly, so I thought, ‘he’s weak now, I need to pounce’.

“I got past him coming out the final Ford chicane, in front of the grandstand of around 15,000 people, all up on their feet. Words can’t describe it.

“As I soon as I couldn’t see him in my mirror, it just started to cruise. It was the longest and slowest race lap I’d done all week because you don’t want to make a mistake.

“It will go down in motorsport history as one of best finishes in GT racing at Le Mans.”

Jonny’s route to Le Mans glory started aged 10 when his father, Jonny Snr, took him up to Crail to race go-karts.

“When I was young I was just obsessed with cars,” he said. “My dad and my grandad loved motorsport, and we used to watch F1 together.

“I had a shot of a go-kart and just fell in love with it. Dad said if you wan’t to do it, let’s do it and have fun with it.

“It was always a hobby but at 15 I knew I didn’t want it as a hobby, I wanted it as a job.

“It’s so different to football or golf. Don’t get me wrong, in these sports you need opportunities and breaks, and I did as well, but the big thing is you need sponsorship and I had to work so, so hard to try and make it happen.

“My family put so much faith and belief in me, financially, to make it happen but I just never stopped.

“I always had to keep knocking on doors, and the people who answered and said we’ll help you, are the people that I still have to this day, helping me.

“I don’t call them sponsors, they are friends because they’ve been part of the journey all the way. As have mum and dad, and all my family and friends.”

It is typical of Jonny that he is already looking to his next achievement.

The victory at Le Mans has pushed him into second place in the World Endurance Championship, and his next goal is to become a world champion.

Such a feat would arguably make him one of Scotland’s top current sportsmen, alongside the likes of Andy Murray and Gary Anderson.

This weekend he returns to France in a different championship, The Blancpain GT Series, where he will contest a six-hour race at the Paul Ricard circuit.