The Inter Europol Competition team showed its confidence and positive mood when they started race two of the ELMS at Monza under ideal conditions. The sun was out and there were people on the grandstands. The #13 Ligier LMP3 was piloted by Kuba Smiechowski and Martin Hippe. Even though the start was not the best, the team finished a well-deserved sixth place after racing for four hours.
The start of the race was not what Smiechowski wanted but it kept him out of trouble even though it bumped him down to 33rd overall. But Smiechowski kept a great pace with lap times anywhere between high 1m48s and low 1m50s. After the one hour mark he was in 19th place overall and 8th in class. The first long pit stop for just fuel lasted 1m46s, Smiechoski stayed in the car. After this the #13 car was running in 21st overall and 9th in LMP3 class.
Some full course yellows in the second hour of the race had no influence on Smiechowski’s position. He kept his laptimes as steady as in the first hour. He was in 18th position overall and 7th in class when the race moved into its third hour.
At the beginning of the third hour Smiechowski handed the car (without the right mirror which just detached itself from the car in his first stint) over to Martin Hippe, including a full tank and new tyres. Hippe’s lap times were around the 1m50s . He was chased by the #3 United Autosport car whose lap times were about 1 second quicker. Hippe had to let the car go past.
Hippe went into the last hour in 17th place overall and 6th in class. In the last 12 minutes of the race Hippe fought hard for 5th place with the #11 Eurointernational car, but just could not overtake.
Progress was made and in general the team is satisfied with this sixth place; one place better than at Silverstone, where Smiechowski/Hippe finished seventh but inherited sixth.
Kuba Smiechowski: “My start was not good, but as I had no place to go going into the chicanes, I choose to go straight. But even there was traffic. I then concentrated to move up through the field and could overtake several cars in some fair fights. My brakes were soft so during my first pitstop we opened the air intake to cool them down a bit. That did the trick to make them work much better. In my second hour, I could attack as the car felt good. I do like the atmosphere here at Monza but the lay-out of the circuit is just not my favorite.”
Martin Hippe: “I took the car from Kuba but I soon felt the little problem with the brakes and the missing mirror did not help in the traffic and with the faster LMP2 cars. After about 30 minutes I had some problems with the powersteering from the car which cost me, over the rest of the race, a lot of time. But despite that the set up was really good and the team again did a good job during the pitstops and in the set-up.”
The next race for the team is at Zandvoort (NED) in the GT & Prototype Challenge powered by Hankook during the Jumbo Racing days 19 – 21 May.