The sun shone as expected in Barcelona and with it, our three LMP3 drivers, Miguel Cristóvão, Kai Askey and Wyatt Brichacek enjoyed a run to second position and their first podium together in the opening round of the 2023 European Le Mans Series.
While all was not smooth sailing for the LMP2 side of the garage, the LMP3 trio had a relatively trouble-free Sunday. Their week began with the long test sessions, enabling all three drivers to get acquainted with each other, the #13 Ligier JS P320 and the Inter Europol Competition crew.
After extensive testing, it was down to Wyatt to take to the circuit in the all-important qualifying session. A strong performance it was too, with the young American racer securing second on the grid in the LMP3 class and setting the team up nicely for race Sunday.
Following the difficulties in Saturday’s Michelin Le Mans Cup race, there was a collective sigh of relief as the two Inter Europol Cars survived the opening lap in the European Le Mans Series. Miguel ran a double stint at the start, achieving his minimum drive time without drama.
It was an impressive performance as he ran with the leaders, led during the pitstops and handed over the #13 in a fighting third position.
Kai took the second stint, closing down the 25-second margin to the race leader, taking the lead and pulling a small advantage at the front of the field. With an hour remaining, he completed his stint and handed the car over to Wyatt.
It was a tougher run for him, running on older Michelin rubber, fuel saving while under pressure for position from behind. Ultimately, he had to yield and then duly brought the #13 home to secure 18 championship points and the season’s first podium.
While the #13 team celebrated a successful start to the campaign, there was disappointment in the #43 side of the garage. Jonathan Aberdein had qualified the LMP2 in sixth position and handed over to Rue Andrade to start the race, which he did in style, vaulting third and pushing the leaders for the position. Unfortunately, a gearbox problem saw the car retire from the four-hour race after 34 laps.
The team now pack up, and head to Belgium for the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship which takes place next weekend.
Sascha Fassbender, Team Manager
“I am very happy with the second position we took today in LMP3; the winning Cool team got a lucky pitstop during a full course yellow, which helped them a lot and without that, I think we could have taken the race win. So, it is positive, and we are fighting for the championship, we are in the game and it was all around a strong performance.
“The LMP2 race result was disappointing, we showed good performance in the first hour of the race, but then we had to stop with a mechanical failure. We have a strong car and driver lineup, so we can come back strongly in the championship as we showed last year in LMP3.”
#13 Miguel Cristóvão
“The start was good, but the second stint was really tough. We opted not to change the tyres for the second stint and that made it more difficult to manage. However, it was a good result for the team and a great way to start the season.”
#13 Kai Askey
“The whole race in general was pretty good. Miguel had a good start and carried it on from there. I jumped in the car and got back to P1, and then Wyatt also did a good job to bring the car home, so all positive and a good haul of points.”
#13 Wyatt Brichacek
“Overall, it’s been a very positive race weekend after Asia, where we were not where we wanted to be, but we came out of the gate well here in ELMS. I was happy with qualifying, great to be on the front row and then we were able to carry that momentum into the race and secure the podium. It was tough at the end; we were running low on fuel, and we were also on used tyres. But in the end, we got the job done and we’re looking forward to the next one.”
#43 Rue Andrade
“It was a good start, I had a good reaction time to the leader, passed the Panis and Duqueine, so P4 and then the United had a puncture, so P3. The pace was generally good, despite a lot of Pro-Am LMP2 traffic, and then I noticed something was strange with the gearbox, especially the downshifts. Soon after that was it. It’s unfortunate to end the race like that, but for sure, we were in a good position.”