READY TO RACE: Anthony Davidson takes part in an event at the Goodwood circuit south-west of London. Davidson is gearing to defend his World Endurance title at Silverstone. Image: Twitter
LONDON, England - Toyota's Anthony Davidson will start the defence of his World Endurance title at Silverstone from April 10 - 12 with Le Mans on his mind.
The 24 Hours at the Sarthe circuit in western France over June 13/14 is the jewel of the championship, a classic test that has mauled many a driver over the years and that every sports-car racer wants to win.
Davidson said in an interview ahead of Sunday's Six Hours of Silverstone, England, season-opener: "We had a big fight on our hands in 2014 all the way through (the championship).
"We didn't win Le Mans...that was our main target for the season and we didn't achieve that. So that remains the same for 2015. I think it's going to be hard to defend the championship - possibly even harder to win Le Mans.
“But it should be a great fight!"
Davidson won the 2014 endurance championship with team mate Sebastien Buemi but only finished third at Le Mans after a heavy crash on a wet track early in the race with Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel.
Davidson was second in 2013 while in 2012 he had a huge crash that saw the car take off at the Mulsanne corner and put the Briton in hospital with two broken vertebrae.
The experience has in no way dimmed the former Formula 1 driver’s enthusiasm or determination.
He said: "I feel, as a driver, that I have tamed it. I feel I know how to win that race. I've led it a couple of times outright and it's looked like I've been on my way to winning it.
"I feel like the team had the recipe to win it in 2014; we had the fastest car and on my car we had the reliability to win it. We would have won it at a canter, well over six laps, if we hadn’t crashed early in the race due to the weather."
A 2015 victory would be more than welcome, however it might come.
"If I am handed the victory... I would quite happily take it because it would make up for all the times when I deserved to win (and didn’t)."
Davidson now has No 1 on his Toyota.
GROWING IN STATURE
"To the average person on the street, to tell them that you won the 24 hours Le Mans... sounds more impressive (than the championship). People in the know realise what the championship means but for something to hang your hat on, of course, Le Mans is an amazing achievement."
So is winning the world endurance title, a championship growing in stature in the motorsport world even if crowds - with the exception of the 250 000 thronging Le Mans - are comparatively small.
Toyota faces a big battle this season against perennial Le Mans favourites and winner Audi, as well as the Porsche works cars.
The eight-round calendar includes six-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps, the Nurburgring, Texas and at Japan's Fuji circuit, Shanghai and Bahrain.
Davidson said of the battle ahead: "In the second year of a stable set of regulations it seems that everybody has improved and we've all honed our cars.
“I think it's probably going to be more of the same in terms of competition.”