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Truth In 24

 

There have been a few, a very few, occasions when the true spirit of motorsport has been captured on film.

 

Somehow film makers miss some of the essential elements, the emotion, the passion, the tension.  These multiple and overlapping dimensions are all very difficult to translate to the 2d world of film.

 

It’s difficult enough to translate those qualities in a scripted format, perhaps only the seminal Le Mans and Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix have ever managed this (albeit both whilst hanging flimsy storylines around stunningly atmospheric race footage).

 

In documentary form however it’s more difficult still.  The scripting is provided by real events, the drama by the principal players’ responses to those events, and, blind luck is therefore required to be in the right places at the right times with, critically, unfettered access.

 

There have been good stabs at it, A 1995 film of Mclaren’s successful tilt at the win and the pair of documentaries focussed around Rollcentre Racing in recent years are as good as they come.

 

That last phrase though must now be re-written  - they are now as good as they came.  The rules have been re-written, the bar raised and a new standard set.

 

Truth in 24 is quite simply a stunning piece of film.

 

Literally unlimited access was granted to the Intersports/ NFL Films team to the 2008 Audi team both at the scene-setting Monza 1000kms and then for the full Le Mans 24 Hours.

 

As reporters covering the endurance racing scene we are used to the ice cool face of Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, we don’t get much in the way of outpourings of emotion, the good Doctor seemingly epitomising the quietly efficient face of Audi’s racing efforts  

 

At Monza there was drama of the end of the race, Audi clashing with Peugeot in a pointless incident that cost Audi the race win.  The drama we saw on track was matched by the tension in the pits as the steely Ullrich façade exploded.  An amazing moment for those that have got anywhere close to the Audi machine.

 

 

At Le Mans the scene setter is John Hindhaugh, talking from the Radio Le Mans eyrie atop the famous tribunes. Hindy’s thoughts on the racing he is most passionate about weaving beautifully with the narration of Jason Statham.

 

Amongst the Audi drivers there are wonderful moments with Mike Rockenfeller – absolute honesty about his upset in 2007 and the drive to prove himself in 2008.

 

Premat and Rocky discussing Gene’s massive test day shunt is another eye opener.

 

Tom Kristensen on what the great race means, how to win it, and how to lose it.

 

 

And Allan McNish, his extraordinarily emotional commentary on an in-car qualifying lap, his raw passion about the race and what it meant to him to win, to miss out and finally to win again.

 

It’s amongst the backroom boys though some very special moments emerge:

 

Wolfgang Ullrich again, in tears after the #2 car took the win.  The scale of the achievement readily apparent.

 

 

Ralf Juttner – Another of Audi’s quiet men – exercising an iron grip on team discipline, demanding, and getting the very best from his crew.

 

The Mad Professor of Audi Sport Ulrich Baretsky on the simplicity of the technical masterpieces he produces.

 

Brad Kettler, the measured man of the ensemble as he looks after the fortunes of the #3 ‘Kids’ car.

 

But the star of the show, and the man who makes the final critical call that placed the hands of Capello, Kristensen and McNish on the trophy is Race engineer for the #2 car Howden Haynes.

 

Down to earth, (very) straight talking, exercising expertise and discipline and, crucially persuading Kristensen that his call on tyres at the end was right, and that favoured by the 7 times winner was wrong – every heartstopping moment on the pitwall and over the team radio is here.

 

When you’ve watched this – as US viewers will get the chance to on ESPN on 20 March – You’ll not only have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the dsc Editor’s view that this is a classic piece of film (disagree and you’ll be wrong).  But you’ll also become one of a group that will inevitably argue the case in future that the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours was won by Capello, Kristensen, McNish – And Haynes!

 

A huge well done to all involved.

 

GG