A third place, a hard learning curve, two flat tyres, some bad luck, but good race pace
It was the first race weekend for the Inter Europol Competition team with two LMP3 and one LMP2 on the grid of the first race of the European Le Mans Series at Le Castellet (France). It was a hard work for the team going through a steep learning curve with the LMP2 where little went as hoped for. But despite a flat tyre, Martin Hippe and Nigel Moore in the #13 LMP3 finished on the podium and made the whole team feel good.
In the qualifying session, the #34 had shifting problems and a flat tyre at the start of the race. Because of this, Kuba Smiechowski had to start from the pit lane and lost one lap. Léo Roussel was happy with his stint and found good race pace. Dani Clos had a more difficult time in his stint, but could bring the car home safely in 15thplace.
For both the #13 and #14 LMP3 the start was very chaotic. Paul Scheuschner who took the start in the #14, spun because of this chaos. Martin Hippe in the #13 was pushed on to the run off area. Both lost several places. But during the race both LMP3s were very quick. Nigel Moore took over from Hippe in the #13 LMP3 and in his stint pushed the car to its limit and finished 3rd, narrowly missing out on second place.
Martin Hippe #13 LMP3: “The start was very difficult in all the traffic. I lost a lot of places as I was pushed onto the run off area. After the first two laps my stint was quite ok. The car was very difficult to drive, but I adapted myself to it. In the middle of my second stint I suffered a slow puncture, my front right tyre lost air. But I could continue till the tyre collapsed completely and then came in and handed the car to Nigel. Nigel pushed really hard and got us on the podium.”
Nigel Moore #13 LMP3:“It was hard and not easy. But that is ok by me, so I just pushed. I started from the back of the LMP3 field and pushed my way to the front. I just needed one more lap to move up to second place, but I just ran out of time.”
Paul Scheuschner #14 LMP3: “We prepared really well for the race. At the start, it was very chaotic. There was so much going on at the same time and many cars bumped into each other that I spun. It was probably the most action-packed stint I ever had, it felt more like go-karting than racing. There were many things I have learned today, and hope to improve in the next race.”
Dino Lunardi #14 LMP3: “It was a really tricky race. After the double stint of Paul, we were completely at the back of the field. Even if the pace was not so bad, the car was not easy to drive and I had to find my confidence. Maybe in the chaos the rear wheel of the car got damaged which made my stint a bit difficult. We also had a breaking problem in the last 45 minuters of the race, but I gave it my best and brought the car to the finish.”
Léo Roussel #43 LMP2:“It was a hard weekend, as we had to learn a lost and had some issues. We were unlucky with the shifting problem and the flat tyre but I was really happy with my stint and could fight with others as we did have the same pace as the leaders of the race. This was the first our first race with the LMP2 and we can now focus on the next race in Monza.”
Kuba Smiechowski #34 LMP2: “The bad luck just didn’t go away this weekend. In qualifying we had a shifting problem. Then at the start of the race we had a puncture. I had to pit and then start from the pit lane so we were immediately one lap behind. After that I tried to push as much as I could. The car felt good, so that is something to be happy about. Then we got a drive-through penalty due to a pit stop infringement. But from the hard things you learn a lot and now look forward to a better result at Monza.”
Dani Clos #34 LMP2: “It is my first race and wanted to learn the car in the race and try to get as much out of the tyres and the chassis as possible. Everything worked pretty good but we need to find pace, but then it is only our first race. I couldn’t find the balance in the car and tried to push, but couldn’t push, or do anything special. But I brought the car home.”
Next ELMS race: Monza 10 – 12 May 2019
Next race for the Inter Europol Competition team: Ultimate Cup Series, Dijon, 26-28 April