On a one of those beautiful rare sunny autumn mornings at Spa Francorchamps, the Inter Europol Competition team LMP3 with number 13 started from 13th place on row 13 in the penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series. In a race with five full course yellows and two safety car periods, Kuba Smiechowski moved from 9th to 5th in the first two hours of the race. After two hours, he handed the car over to Martin Hippe. Hippe fell back to 7th but gained a couple of place in the third hour. In the last hour he firmly kept the door closed to first the #6 LMP3 and then to the #3, and put the Inter Europol Competition LMP3 over the finish line in fourth position.
In the first hour of the race Smiechowski moved from 13th to 9th and a bit up and down the leaderboard, and went into the second hour still being in 9th place. In his second hour in the car, Smiechowski came in for the first pitstop during a safety car period and returned to the track in 6th position. After the restart and another full course yellow, he moved up to 5th before he handed the car over to Martin Hippe during the second pitstop. With 45 minutes to go Hippe was in 3rd position but got overtaken by the number #3 and with just 10 minutes to go, got overtaken by the #6 LMP3 which then spun and dropped down to 7th. Hippe came in for the last splash and dash pitstop and fell back to 10th but could push his way back up to 4th place. Hippe closed the door on his pursuers and with a difference of only 0,599 seconds, he crossed the finish line in fourth position.
With all the full course yellows and safety car periods, the race was a bit of a lottery of where everybody was going to finish. But maybe all those numbers 13 helped get the Inter Europol Competition team to fourth.
Martin Hippe: “It was difficult to say why, but I did not really feel comfortable in the car. I missed the easy flow of the race at Paul Ricard. We had to very work hard this time to get to fourth. At the end of the race I kept the door firmly closed to the #6 and #3 car and managed to bring the car home in fourth. We made the most of the car we had, much more we couldn’t have done. The competition is so close that the key is to drive a faultless race. That is what we did at Paul Ricard, not this time. This time we are very happy with fourth. “
Kuba Smiechowski: “With the safety car periods and full course yellows we did not get a lot of racing done. After the full course yellow I needed four laps to get the temperature back in my tyres. I am not sure if the first safety car period helped me or not. I was in 5th place but could not see any LMP3s in front of me. And it was very slippery out on the track. I would have loved being on the podium again, but am happy to be the best of the rest.”
Start: 23rd overall 13th LMP3
Hour 1: 22nd overall 10th LMP3
Hour 2: 16th overall 5th LMP3
Hour 3: 18th overall 6th LMP3
Hour 4: 15th overall 4th LMP3
Teams championship: 4th
Next race for the team:
Spa Francorchamps GT&Prototype Challenge 30 september / 1 October