This year Inter Europol Competition has recorded its first LMP2 victory in the Asian Le Mans Series, enjoyed its first FIA World Endurance Championship podium at Spa-Francorchamps and today (11 June 2023) won the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans!
The biggest and by far the most significant victory in the Polish team’s history – and for drivers Jakub (Kuba) Śmiechowski, Fabio Scherer, and Albert Costa Balboa – was far from easy with five rival teams remaining within striking distance for much of the race.
In fact, the very first pitstop could have spelt disaster as Fabio was unfortunate to have his left foot run over by a passing Corvette!
Starting 13th of the 24 Orecas in the LMP2 field, Fabio took the first stint and was able to negotiate the wet areas on the circuit a light rain fell. He worked his way up to seventh by the two-hour mark before handing over to Kuba and then Albert. Heavy rain followed, catching out many and bringing out lengthy safety car periods in which fine strategy gained us further track position.
Less than three hours in, Albert was battling for the lead and 60 minutes later Kuba led the race for the first time, just as heavy rain hit the circuit again. The margin at the front of the field grew to 45 seconds, but this was soon negated by a further safety car.
As the event transitioned into day two, the #34 trio enjoyed further periods at the head of the field, whilst battling with the #41 WRT and the 30 Duqueine, battles that would continue for some time. With 14 hours of running completed, Albert led again before the positions were reversed again.
A fine battle between Fabio and Robert Kubica followed, resulting in an audacious pass around the outside from the Inter Europol Competition racer on lap 188 with still nine hours to go. LMP2 racing at its very finest, the fight for supremacy continued for another two hours before Albert was able to make significant ground.
Into the final stages and the battle with WRT continued, varying from being all ok at two minutes plus, to being serious when a late race penalty was handed out for a pitstop infringement from the previous evening. Thankfully, Fabio has the pace in hand anyway to control the reduced deficit. He finished 24 hours of racing 21 seconds ahead of the field.
While 50 points in the championship standings – which puts us in the hunt for the WEC title lead after Monza – there’s nothing like winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans!
The sister #32 entry had a much tougher day, suffering numerous mechanical issues all derived from an off in the early race treacherous conditions. With Jan at the wheel, the car aquaplaned and subsequent spin into the wall. While the car was repaired and returned to action, the shunt took its toll with first the driveshaft and then the suspension failing, ultimately leading to retirement at half distance. The three drivers all showed great pace but suffered with zero luck as can sometimes happen.
To win at Le Mans, you need speed, consistency but above all the ability and talents of a hardworking crew to give their all and minimise mistakes. An unforgettable day for this proud Polish team. We aced it!”
“The season started months and months before the first race of the year, and we arrived here at Le Mans knowing that we had good speed and we had to stay out of trouble. My teammates did an incredible job to be fast, whatever the conditions. It was to make a mistake when it rained. My teammates, the team did an incredibly Great strategy and teamwork, and I am so grateful to the team.”
Fabio Scherer #34
“It’s mythical, amazing. The car was great, with good pace and performance. The race for us was amazing, everything worked well and think it’s the result the team deserved! We don’t always get the result that our pace shows. Honestly, after the first stint, I thought my race was over but here, I do not want to speak about my foot, I wish to speak about the team and result. Winning a race like this is like nothing else.”
Albert Costa #34
“The first podium at Spa was just a starter; I am on a crazy journey with IEC. It’s a new team to me from the start of the season. Here has been amazing! I could not sleep here at Le Mans. First, you want to race here, in whatever category. As good as the team is, it’s always difficult but the team stay calm, and everybody helped through the moments. The most impressive thing for me is the way they are growing, and now, I want to cry, every time I say that we won Le Mans…”
Jan Magnussen #32
“I’m super sad that it ended halfway through the race, but it’s been a great experience being here racing with Inter Europol Competition. It’s hard to put into words how I feel right now, but I’m happy we got this opportunity to do this with Mark and Anders. I’m really sad it ended the way it did, it’s been a crazy race from the beginning too, well, halfway!”
Anders Fjordbach #32
“It was great fun to be here, and I am really happy we got to take part. Everyone who has seen the race sees it’s a crazy one, but I had great fun when I was out there on track. The car was competitive and it’s a shame it had to end like this, but that’s the way it is sometimes. I’m really happy with everything, just not the aquaplaning situation which ultimately led us to retirement later in the race.”