CLIVE Rowland has described winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans as ‘mindblowing’.

The 40-year-old, who has lived in Weaverham for 11 years, was number one mechanic to the TF Sport Aston Martin driven to a dominant victory in the GTE AM class in France by Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sørensen.

Rowland, who has been involved with motorsport since racing karts for Tarporley High School aged 11, said this success is beyond his wildest dreams.

“You don’t expect to win it,” he added.

“People say the race chooses you, you don’t choose it. It just happens. It’s so much luck, you have to almost fluke it to a certain degree because there are so many variables. It’s pretty wild.

“A lot of people say there are three top races out there, Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans. For me, Le Mans is the biggest race in the world.

“I’ve been doing Le Mans for five years with different teams. This is the second year with TF Sport and it’s TF Sport’s second time in three years to win the class, so it’s pretty unbelievable really.”

It was the second time in a week to be on the Le Mans podium.

Rowland, who grew up a mile away from the Oulton Park circuit, and three other mechanics on the TF #33 car fended off 59 other crews to win the class and finish joint first overall in the first ever ‘pit stop challenge’, in which all teams from all classes performed individually timed pit stops.

“A double podium in one week is pretty mindblowing,” he said.

“It’s pretty mindblowing to have come from where I’ve come to win Le Mans with TF Sport, it’s unbelievable.

“It’s a privilege to work for the team and it’s just one massive cog that work well together. It’s just one massive family at the end of the day, nearly 40 of us out there running two cars.

“And it’s not 24 hours and you’re done, you get there in the morning, do the warm-up, then do the race, then pack down until 8 or 9 o’clock at night. It’s certainly a war of attrition and you certainly get your highs and lows from doing that race because so much can go wrong. So much is out of your control no matter how much you plan, no matter how much prep, and how much experience you’ve got between you all.

“I’m just very lucky and happy to have experienced winning that race.”

Father-of-two Rowland, who is now busy preparing the car for the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship at Monza, Italy, paid tribute to the support of his wife that enables him to work with the team at their base in West Sussex and to jet off around the world to do his job as a contractor.

“I’ve been doing it full-time for around 10 years, doing stuff in the Touring Car paddock in British GTs, and world endurance championship and all sorts of GT Championships across Europe. It’s pretty full-on,” he said.

“Luckily, Kim’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and she’s so understanding and makes it work. We’ve got two kids, Fin who is 11 and Nancy who’s 6, and when I race in the UK they’ll come and watch and see what I do, and they understand. And they watch on the tele too.

“Without Kim and without the support that she gives, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

“TF is like a second family really. I’m away with these guys more than I’m with the family, especially in the first six months of the year doing Daytona, Asian Le Mans, European Le Mans and then doing world endurance. Once Le Mans and July are out of the way, it calms right down. But those first six months are absolutely hectic.”

He is happy not being behind the wheel, but that is how it all started for him.

“I used to race karts when I was younger. I did that for seven to eight years. I was alright, I wasn’t amazing, but I enjoyed it,” he said.

“Then I thought instead of paying for it, why don’t I get paid to do it – someone pay me to help run their car, so that’s what I did from there really.

“I’ve learnt it on the go, working with people who have done it for a long time – sort of working with the best and learning from the best.

“You never stop learning, it’s constant in this game. You have to embrace the new technology and the way that things are done now.”