Hot and sunny conditions greeted the European Le Mans Series at Motorland Aragon for the third round of the championship, but sadly, it was a tough weekend for the Inter Europol Competition team. Despite great speed in the LMP2 and LMP3 classes, the team left Spain disappointed after failing to finish the four-hour race.
The Polish squad fielded its usual strong driver lineups of Rui Andrade, Olli Caldwell and Jonathan Aberdein in the #43 LMP2 challenger, while the #13 LMP3 Ligier was raced by Miguel Cristóvão, Kai Askey and Wyatt Brichacek.
Both sides of the garage took to the circuit Wednesday for the test day and then worked their way through the day and night practice sessions, saving tyres and preparing for the Saturday evening event.
Qualifying underlined the performance of the team’s car and driver package. Wyatt claimed the team’s first European Le Mans Series LMP3 pole position, making a little history for the #13 Ligier that has been so successful over the last few campaigns. In LMP2, the 15-minute shootout was down to Olli in the #43 LMP2, and he put in a fine performance to record the third-fastest time, just 0.079s off the pole. The scene was set, and expectations were high.
The expected rain never materialised, and the race got underway Saturday evening, with Rui making a strong start to run third behind the #30 before the team opted to box early and go off strategy. This seemed to be paying dividends during Rui’s second stint as he ran second in the slipstream of the leading #22 car.
Lap 32 saw the #50 GT racer – seemingly unaware of his surroundings – moving across and into Rui as he was being lapped, and that was that. After a tremendous drive, Rui brought the damaged Oreca back to the pit to retire courtesy of left rear suspension damage.
Lining up at the head of the LMP3 field, Miguel – our Bronze-graded driver – was tasked with the opening two stints, slotting in behind the #11 EuroInternational Ligier silver racer leader.
It was all going well until the safety car – ironically from Rui and the #50 – saw Miguel pass the safety car during the pass-around procedure when he was not eligible to do so. A 160-second stop-go penalty followed, but it was academic anyway as a drive issue – a suspected gearbox problem – ended the race in Wyatt’s final stint whilst running seventh.
It was a case of what could have been, but racing at this level is tough. In addition to its test programme, the team heads next to Fuji, Japan, for the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The next round of the European Le Mans Series takes place next month At Spa-Francorchamps.