Starting from 15th and finishing second in LMP3 is what the Martin Hippe and Kuba Smiechowski of the Inter Europol Competition team did. It was very sunny and very warm during the fourth race of the European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard this Sunday the 27th of August. Both drivers suffered temperatures of anywhere between 50 to 55 degrees in the cockpit of the car. But that did not matter to them. They raced a flawless race to finish second on the LMP3 podium.
Start of the race: 15th LMP3 (27th overall)
Smiechowski had a great start and moved up to 12th on his first lap even if he lost the small front nose cover. During the first hour he moved steadily up the leaderboard. Some places gained were due to cars spinning out or getting penalties, others places were because he just was very quick and able to overtake.
Start of the second hour: 8th LMP3 (20th overall)
The second hour of the race started with a full course yellow and Smiechowski came in for one of the two mandatory long pitstops. The team tried to replace the lost cover but did not have enough time to do it, but it did not really matter. Smiechowski lost one place because he missed the green flag count down due to some radio problems, but made this place up again a little later. He could overtake another couple of cars and handed over to Hippe while in 5th place.
Into the third hour: 5th LMP3 (18th overall)
HIppe got in the car to drive the last two hours of the race and after the pitstop was 9th on the leaderboard. But as others in front of him also did their pitstops, he moved up to seventh. Hippe’s laptimes were quick and steady and he could overtake some cars while others moved down the leaderboard because of their pitstops. With one hour to go he moved up to fourth.
Into the fourth hour: 4th LMP3 (16th overall)
Some longer third pitstops of the cars in front of Hippe, brought him to second place in LMP3. Two full course yellows in the last 14 minutes of the race kept Hippe from being able to catch the United car. Though his laptimes were better, he just ran out of time. He crossed the finish line in second place in LMP3.
Kuba Smiechowski: “My start was pretty good. I gained some places and pushed as hard as I could. The track was pretty slippery and the car was sliding a lot and that did not make the race very easy. At the end of my first stint we had a full course yellow and I came in to refuel. When I came back onto the track I had some radio issues and I didn’t get the countdown so I missed the green flag restart. In my second hour when some LMP2 cars overtook me, I had a little contact with the #25. The #17 braked before the chicane a little early and so I could not avoid him. But luckily no problems came of it. I handed the car to Martin while in 6th and he brought the car home in 2nd. Really happy!
Martin Hippe: “What shall I say? It feels very good to be on the podium. We have been so close a lot of the time, but just missed the last bit of luck. Today we ran a faultless race and we were lucky. Everybody did a great job and we are all very happy with this result. Now we are going to work even harder to get everything right to finish first. When I took the car from Kuba I felt good immediately and could set some quick laptimes and overtake some cars in some great moves. In the end we had a better pace then the United car in front of us but we just simply ran out of time. Congratulations to United for winning the race.”
Jörg Kranzfelder (Engineer): “The whole team is very happy with the result. We have been close before but just did not get everything right. Here we did not expect a podium finish after our qualifying but as it is with racing, you just never know. We have some things we have to improve to be on the top of the podium in the future. And that is what we are going for.”
Next race: VdeV, Jarama, Spain, 1 – 2 September 2017.