Small problems and an incident for the #34
The Ligier LMP2 #34 of the Inter Europol Compeition team with Kuba Smiechowski, Rene Binder and Matevos Isaakyan started from 16th. The race pace of the car was good but a number of small problems and an incident meant the team had to be happy with 11th place after four hours of racing.
Smiechowski drove a very good stint, moving up to 13th. A problem with refuelling costs the team some time, but he pushed on and by the second pit stop he had moved up to 11th. He handed the car to Matevos Isaakyan who overtook a number of cars and went up to 9th.
After Isaakyan’s went out after his fuel only pit stop he came in contact with the #37 car and had to come in during a full course yellow to get a new front end. Later a drive through penalty was given for the contact. Rene Binder took over from Isaakyan and took the drive through in his stint. Going into the last hour Binder was back in 13th position. But after a few spots of rain and another two full course yellows, Binder took the chequered flag in 11th position.
Kuba Smiechowski: “It was a difficult race again, with hard conditions for everyone. The car was pretty slippery all around the track but I guess that was the same for everybody. We had a small issue with the refuelling so we lost some time there. Then I tried to gain as much positions as I could but in the end P11 was all we could do. It’s still a pretty decent result with the refuelling time lost and the drive through, but the race pace is there, so that’s very positive.”
Matevos Isaakyan: “I was quite happy in the car. We made some good progress between the two races. And I am happy with that too. I did make a mistake when I came behind the Cool racing car. He was besides the Algarve Pro car and I tried to go inside and then pull out and he just went on full brakes very early and I had no choice and made contact. And got a drive through penalty for it. For the next race at Paul Ricard, I think we will feel more confident with lower temperatures as it will be an evening race.”
Rene Binder: “It was a bit of a frustrating race for us. It looked promising after the problems we had this weekend. It looked we made a step forward in pace. We had an issue with fuelling rig which costs us about 14 seconds and we got the drive through penalty, which made a top ten impossible.”
Martin Hippe in the Ligier LMP3 #13 was looking forward to a good race. He moved from 9th to 7th after a couple of laps, when his luck ran out. The #10 LMP3 of Nielsen Racing spun in front of him and while trying to avoid it, Hippe ended up in the wall. Luckily, he did not get hurt.
Martin Hippe: “I lost a place in a bit of a traffic jam in the first corner but gained some back in the next couple of laps. I was on a good run but then car #10 spun in front of me in mid corner of turn nine and there was nothing I could do to avoid him. I ended up in the wall. So unlucky. But we’ll come back stronger next time.”
Sascha Fassbender (team manager): “We had a difficult weekend, from the beginning and for both our cars. Specially with the high temperatures and the track conditions. We lost the #13 early in the race which we could do nothing about. We now need to fight even harder but no way we are giving up the fight for the title. We were very happy with the race pace of the #34, but due to a problem with the fuelling rig, we could not fill up the car in the first pit stop and needed to make a second stop in Kuba’s stint. And we got a drive through penalty for a mistake made. Unfortunately, this made it impossible to get into the top ten.”