Persistence pays dividends for Inter Europol Competition in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet

16 July 2023

The second round of the European Le Mans Series concluded this afternoon (16 July 2023) at Circuit Paul Ricard with a fine LMP2 third position for Inter Europol Competition with the #43 Oreca raced by Rui Andrade, Olli Caldwell and Jonathan Aberdein.

It was a tale of persistence this weekend in both classes of the championship. There was some misfortune at times, making a strong result look unlikely. Ultimately, the team kept its cool, heads down, performed flawlessly and secured its first LMP2 ELMS podium of the season while also clawing back a solid sixth position with the #13 LMP3 driven by Miguel Cristóvão, Kai Askey and Wyatt Brichacek.

It was straight from the fifth position in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Monza to the Cote d’Azur for the European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup and Ligier European Series for many of the Inter Europol Competition crew. A very busy two weeks concluded nicely with an all-around strong ELMS performance on track from both sides of the garage.

Hot and sunny conditions greeted the team on arrival, through the test day and into the official sessions and race weekend. Qualifying on Saturday saw Olli put in a fine performance in a very tight field to qualify fourth fastest in the #43 LMP2 Oreca. With Kai also on great form in the #13 LMP3 to line up third, confidence was high heading into the start on Sunday morning.

The rolling start was far from ideal, leaving Rui in the #43 with no opportunity to make ground with the right and left-hand sides of the field travelling at very differing velocities! This meant that he was pushed down the order to sixth in the opening turns.

Subsequent contact with the #35 LMP3 was unfortunate; it earned a drive-through penalty and damaged Oreca’s nose – losing downforce and requiring an additional stop to rectify after an hour of racing.

Rui pushed on and handed the car over to Olli in P7. While at a disadvantage in terms of track position, the car and drivers were undoubtedly quick and from hereon in, it was a case of waiting for that opportunity. This came on lap 56 with the sole safety car of the race.

Even with an extra stop for emergency fuel and then a green flag stop, the LMP2 field bunched up very nicely. After a great run from Olli, it was over to Jonathan for the final two stints, and he and the crew truly delivered.

Fourth position on the road, third in LMP2, with just 0.2 seconds separating Inter Europol Competition from the car ahead, it was a hard-earned and very welcome result.

Having finished second last time out in Barcelona, over in the #13 side of the garage, Miguel started and then pushed on for half of the race in a quite heroic performance. Ultimately, a penalty for contact with the #4 also cost him in terms of track position, but it was a fine recovery from Kai and Wyatt, who pulled chunks of time and places to finish P6.

Testing aside, it’s a short break for Inter Europol Competition ahead of the third round of the European Le Mans Series next month in Aragón, Spain.

Sascha Fassbender, Team Manager #43, #13
“We have shown with both cars that we were very competitive on track performance-wise. The #43 LMP2 showed great pace but, unfortunately, had some issues early in the race. Having changed the nose of the car, it looked difficult for us to get a good result. Recovering and finishing on the podium is a good achievement, but we could have won this race today.

“In LMP3, Miguel did a fine job – two hours in this heat was impressive – and Wyatt was very good in the last stint to gain in the region of 45 seconds, pass the car ahead and was clearly the fastest LMP3 car on the track.

“Overall, I am not upset with the weekend, but not happy.”

Jonathan Aberdein #43
“It was unfortunate at the start, and Rui did the best he could in that situation off the rolling start. There was an incident with the which – I personally believe – was not a penalty, but then Olli did a great double stint in the middle, and then I was catching [the car ahead of Louis Deletraz], and I think I would have had him with one more lap! It is what it is; I think we can all be happy to come away with a podium on that one.”

Olli Caldwell #43
“I have bitter-sweet feelings about this result. The race didn’t go to plan, but ultimately the car was really quick. We cannot control everything that happens in the race, and we adapt as things happen, so to go from nearly last and onto the LMP2 podium, we have to be happy with that.”

Rui Andrade #43
“The start was difficult. Then there was the contact, and that lost downforce. And it was all about surviving to the end of the stint. My teammates took over, and we were fortunate to have a safety car at that point. Olli and Jonathan did a great job recovering at the end and getting points to compensate for those we lost in Barcelona. But a good result, and now we need to see how we can further improve for Aragón.”

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