Nothing beats a good rival

As seen in these Le Mans short films

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Last year, Porsche took the win at Le Mans in dramatic style, a grand finale for its involvement in the race it first won in 1970 [link]. It’s also a grand finale (although we hope not entirely the end) to the rivalries between the contenders for the top of the podium.

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.
“Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery”.

We devote a lot of time and a lot of our language to the way in which our relationships define us. And it’s not just in friendships, offices or football teams. It’s fascinating to look at the contrast and competition between brands, and in cars, in the way technical teams approach problems, innovation and technology. Oh and the way we need our rivals just to be ourselves - but better.

The gratitude racing teams have for the other competitors on the grid is a good thing about motor sport. It’s a community as well as a competition.

This year Toyota made a short film to wish Porsche good bye - and thank it for pushing Toyota to improve. It’s an important summary of how the process of competition is positive - if you respect your rivals and value the race; the recognition that it’s not just about winning at all costs, trash-talking the opposition or spouting deluded self-belief. It’s about taking the peaks achieved by one person (or organisation) and building on them to exceed and excel. Close rivals, each taking the other’s achievements and pushing them just that little bit further can fuel progress, aspirations and success.

It’s also part of a genre of race videos - started back in 2014 when Audi welcomed Porsche back to Le Mans in 2014:

And when Porsche lost to Audi that year, it put out a video to congratulate Audi on its win:

 So when when Audi announces retirement from the 24 hour endurance racing competition, the response from Porsche was touching: 

That’s not to say that the brand doesn’t celebrate its own success - this 2017 video encapsulates the epic and seemingly impossible Porsche wins.

However, it’s also about the scene, the race community and the whole thing. Sure it’s about being the fastest team and seeing your name in lights - but without a worthy rival victory does not taste as sweet. Without a worthy rival, where victory can hang on a fraction of a second, it’s less important to make every detail count.

We hope we’ll be seeing more of this kind of thing as Porsche throws its considerable race winning experience into Formula E. Surely its presence will create new rivalries which will see thrilling racing with new automotive technologies? With marques throwing down new challenges to their rivals each year (and possibly describing them in film).

I really hope Toyota will be racing Porsche in the Formula E races of the future. A rich and diverse approach to technology is good for the sport - and because the sport influences the development of automotive technology it’s good for drivers and driving. Maybe the motto for the race scene should be ‘keep your friends close but your rivals closer’.

By Beate Kubitz at 20 Feb 2018, 00:00 AM