The second European Le Mans Series podium of the season was long overdue for Inter Europol Competition’s #13 LMP3 trio of Miguel Cristóvão, Wyatt Brichacek and Kai Askey, but it finally came at Spa-Francorchamps with a fine second position across the line.
After the heartache of Motorland Aragon last time out, a strong performance this time went rewarded in Belgium, and significantly, it was a crucial race for the championship as the series prepares for the final two rounds at Portimao next month.
It was anything but easy: a complex four-hour race with multiple safety car periods, strategy, penalties and wheel-to-wheel race action. Testing took place on Wednesday, with official practice getting underway on Friday morning. The team worked through the practice sessions before Wyatt qualified the Ligier in seventh position.
Miguel took the opening two stints of the race, where the team opted to complete the longer mandated fuel and tyre stop. While this dropped the #13 back in the race order, it paid great dividends later in the race.
As our rivals took their longer stop mid-race, Wyatt vaulted from eighth position to second. A subsequent drive-through penalty for contact dropped the #13 back to third place, but heading into the final stint, Kai ran second right with the race leader.
It was a tense end to the race, where, sadly, our #43 LMP2 exited the race whilst running third. Meanwhile, Kai withstood the pressure from behind while also pushing to pass the car ahead to take the chequered 2.5 seconds behind the #17.
The result could change, with the #17 car under investigation for an infringement. Either way, it was a strong race both in terms of speed on the track and strategy to move us second in the championship standings.
A third position meanwhile looked all but certain for the #43 LMP2 raced by Rui Andrade, Olli Caldwell and Jonathan Aberdein. The start saw Rui vault from P5 to P2, a position he would keep for the first half of the race. Contact with a rival car necessitated a rear end change, but a rare mistake from Jonathan brought the challenge to a premature halt.
The team now prepares for the ELMS decider – and – double-header at Portimao, determined to push for victory in both classes and both races.
“It was a crazy race, and I tried my best in the beginning – not to make mistakes – but it’s a great result; it moves us second in the championship, so we can all be very happy with our performance here at Spa.”
“It was a good race; we decided to go a little off strategy at the start with the earlier long stop. We brought the car home P2, even if it was a bit duller than I would have liked with so many safety car periods… five or six laps of green flag in the last two stints. But we did what we needed to do, and we’re back in the hunt!”
“It was a solid race, very clean, and the team made a great strategy call to help move us forward from P8 to the front. Miguel put in a great double stint, and his race pace was great. Once I got in, there were a lot of safety cars and full course yellows, but I had to push hard when green. It’s annoying that I could not pass the Cool car ahead, but there were so few green flag laps to try and make a move. Good points and very good for the championship.”