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Giancarlo Fisichella says realizing his dream of winning at Le Mans outranks any of his three Formula 1 grand prix victories.
The Italian's chances of achieving that ambition appeared to take a severe knock on Wednesday when he crashed at the Porsche curves in free practice, damaging his Ferrari to such an extent that the #51 AF Corse needed a brand-new chassis, the preparation of which caused the team to miss nearly all of qualifying.
Starting from the back of the grid, the 458 made quick progress and by the fourth hour was part of a three-way fight for first place. As its rivals suffered a variety of ailments, the #51 car moved into a clear lead which it held until the checkered flag.
"I won a few races in Formula 1, but winning [Le Mans] was my dream and it feels great," Fisichella said. "The dream came true. I have to say thank you to my team-mates Gianmaria [Bruni] and Toni [Vilander] – they did a fantastic job and together we made a great race."
Fisichella also paid tribute to the AF Corse squad, after the team prepared the new chassis – shipped overnight on Wednesday from Italy – in just 10 hours.
"It was an amazing race, but it didn't start well. The crash, it was bad. We were competing again in something like 10 hours though, so I have to say 'thanks very much' to the team."