Formula 1 Summer Movie Series: Journey To Le Mans (2014)
For decades now Le Mans has been known as one of the most prestigious races in motorsport. Only a few thousand drivers have experienced what it’s like to be on that track and to endure a 24 hour race on it. The 2014 movie “Journey To Le Mans” gives viewers a peak behind the curtain of JOTA Sports and their LMP2 2014 run.
Cameras catch the team as they participate in the European Le Mans Series and the 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team experiences loads of drama throughout the year including a scary crash and roster changes. The movie ends with JOTA Sports on top of the world, after picking up their first Le Mans class win, after pursuing it for many years.
Early Season Worries
The movie covers the 2014 ELMS (European Le Mans Series) season, with the biggest part being a scary crash at Silverstone. The team, which was on pole position for the race, had to retire after Simon Dolan was at the wheel during a crash on the track. While it was never explicitly mentioned, the peers of Dolan were worried about the worst coming out of the situation. I found it interesting how he said the crash was the “first time” that he was scared behind a wheel. He returned only two weeks later after recovering from the injury, racing at Spa.
A Pre-race Le Mans Scramble
Once the team made it to Le Mans, they experienced a last-minute shuffle in their roster. During a practice session leading up to the race, a Porsche car crashed with their driver being unable to participate in the race. While the situation was scary and the well being of the driver was most people’s concerns, JOTA feared this would affect their race – and it did.
Marc Gene, who was a driver for JOTA was a Porsche factory driver. Since Porsche had first rights over him, he was transferred to the Porsche roster only days before the race. JOTA’s chance of even hitting the track on Sunday was up in the air. Luckily, they were able to bring in Oliver Turvey who had driven for JOTA in the past. This year he drove in the Formula E series and participated in Le Mans.
When it came time to race, JOTA seemed to have a pretty easy outing. Despite the chaos through the rain in and the incidents that followed, JOTA seemed to stay clean. They won the race, completing the one thing that the team had yet to achieve. JOTA Sport continues to thrive in endurance racing. The team currently runs a car in the WEC (World Endurance Championship) in partnership with Jackie Chan Racing.
The Movie’s Shortcomings
While the film was fine to watch it sure has its flaws. At times the movie felt like it was only scratching the surface of what type of drama was going on during the season. While the film is titled “Journey To Le Mans”, it included the Le Mans race, but not in much detail.
The victory at Le Mans was understated as the film packed its bags and left almost right after the race wrapped up. From a film making standpoint, the only thing that really bugged me was how some clips were shown more than once. It’s justifiable to show replays of big moments, but we are talking self-shot stock footage being shown more than once. It just looks lazy.
Le Mans and the hype that surrounds it truly is worthy of a documentary. Though it felt that “Journey To Le Mans” did not cover the event to its full potential.
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