5th at the Red Bull Ring: best ELMS finish for the Inter Europol Competition team
While Martin Hippe qualified the LMP3 of the Inter Europol Competition car for 13th place on the grid (26th overall), Kuba Smiechowski took the start. After the four hour race Smiechowski/Hippe finished in fifth position in LMP3 and 13th overall. Their best finish so far this year in the ELMS.
Just after the start and still on the first lap, Smiechowski narrowly escaped being hit by the #3 LMP3 car which spun, but he could continue with no harm done. Smiechowski moved up to 10th in the first hour. The first of the three compulsory pitstops was done just on the one hour mark.
At the beginning of the second hour Smiechowski nearly spun in the Rauch corner after his rear axle locked on breaking. Unfortunately the #12 Eurointernational car could not avoid him and suffered a puncture and some damage and had to retire. Smiechoswki could continue and moved up to 6th in LMP3.
Just into the third hour Smiechowski was 5th when Hippe took over for his stint. Hippe came back into the race in 7th place. 30 minutes into his first stint he moved up to 6th place and had just one more long compulsory pitstop to go. After the #7 LMP3 dropped out of the race, Hippe moved up to 5th. And then to 4th when #9 LMP3 was taking its last pitstop.
Into the last hour Hippe was third and 11th overall and the team still had to take the third compulsory pitstop. During the full course yellow many cars came in for their last pitstop but the team had another idea and stayed out, hoping for the forecasted rain. But the rain did not come and the Inter Europol Competition team had to be satisfied with 5th place. However, it is the best result for the team so far in the European Le Mans Series.
Kuba Smiechowski: “For the first hour I was just not too happy as I tried to catch up with the guys in front of me, but the gap just stayed the same. About two or three seconds. In the race I had some oversteer and then some understeer, but that became a little less further into the race. But I felt I had a steady race pace and am of course happy with the result. Though it just might have been better. The potential is there. I hope next time.”
Martin Hippe: “I raced as fast as I possibly could, but the clash with the #12 must have damaged the nose and maybe something else as well because it was not easy. At the beginning the car felt sort of good, but it became worse as the tyres worn off. The last 30 minutes were the worst. Like Kuba I think the potential for a podium is there. But racing in the ELMS is not easy, it is hard work. Fun, but hard work.”
Jorg Kranzfelder (Engineer): “I took a chance on the rain. If it had rained we possibly would have had a better result. But then it didn’t rain and we still had the best result so far in the ELMS. I am happy with the laptimes during the race but, where we can and have to improve, is at qualifying. So more work to be done.”
Next race: GT&Prototype Challenge 4 – 6 August Assen (Holland)