(English) An eventful Road to Le Mans event for Inter Europol Competition

9 czerwca 2023

Przepraszamy, ten wpis jest dostępny tylko w języku Amerykański Angielski.

The Road to Le Mans is the jewel in the crown event within the Michelin Le Mans Cup. For the six Inter Europol racers, it is a fantastic opportunity to race at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe in support of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Inter Europol Competition fielded the #13 Ligier JS P320 for Ben Stone and Santiago Concepción Serrano, the #14 for Andres Lattore and Daniel Ali and the #15 for Chris Short and Bryson Morris.

With no testing not an option at Le Mans, track time was key, but unfortunately, clear green flag running was a rarity in much of practice, meaning that qualifying was something of a lottery in terms of being able to put in a quick lap around the long circuit. With qualifying compromised, this made life difficult for the drivers in the two one-hour races.

Qualifying for the Michelin Le Mans Cup is always a fraught affair. Add in the demands of the Le Mans, circuit and it made for two tough sessions for some. The first 20 minutes of qualifying saw Chris lead the way in the #16 Ligier in P16, with #13 Santi 29th and #14 Daniel 31st.

It was especially tough on the #14 team though as Daniel was hit on the left-hand side, damaging the radiator and subsequently the engine. This meant that teammate Andres was unable to take part in the second qualifying session and neither the first race.

Qualifying two set the grid for the second race, with Ben leading the way in the #13 in P11 with Santi P29 in the #13. It was a session where achieving a timed lap was hard enough with two red flags and multiple yellows in the 20 minutes session. With the grid order well and truly scrambled, the six drivers prepared for the Thursday evening race.

20th position for Ben and Santi was the highlight in the #13, the duo making up seven positions in an incident-filled race. An issue with seat belts and seat insert for Bryson Morris at the mandatory driver change scuppered his and Chris’ race potential as they finished in 30th position.

Friday morning saw a calmer second Road to Le Mans race. For Chris and Bryson in the #15, it was eventful with the former being turned around by a rival on the opening lap. Having started 12th, Chris found himself 23rd after the incident. Both he and Bryson showed a good turn of speed however to move back through the field to finish back where they started in 12th!

Daniel and Andres had a real roller coaster of a race in the #14 Ligier, that ended on a positive note. Starting at the very back of the field having not taken part in qualifying, they had to race through the GT field and then tackle to LMP3 cars. Having had such limited running prior to the race, Daniel and Andres both put in great performances to finish 25th in the 57-car field.

For the #13 drivers Ben and Santi, they ran a longer first stint than some of their rivals to gain seven positions in the race to finish 20th. The second race however ended in disappointment and retirement after a late race clash.

The next round of the Michelin Le Mans up takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard next month. For Daniel, Chris and Bryson, it’s a circuit they are familiar with, having taken part in the Ultimate Cup race there earlier in the season.

Martin Hippe, Team Manager
“If it was easy, it wouldn’t be Le Mans! There were plenty of positives. #15 Chris and Bryson race two which showed great pace; Chris did a very good job and Bryson was strong with some very good overtaking manoeuvres. It was good at the start for the #13, but Santi was a bit too ambitious. It would have helped him to have more track time in the free practice. The #14 did a good job from the very last position and showed good pace. Daniel was improving by the lap and Andres did well to make gains and pass the traffic. There’re still things to improve but for the next event, we need to ensure we are not in the pack like we were here. If you start near the front, you just look forward

Chris Short #15
“The second race was a lot more positive but frustrated to get turned around by Tony Wells. We all suffered in the pitstops, so with the spin and the 12-second loss in there, we could have been fighting for a top-five place. The car was good, and Bryson is a strong Silver racer and if we can just get a bit of luck, I think we should be in contention for podium positions. For the next race at Paul Ricard, we did the Ultimate Cup race there, so that will give us a bit of a head start.”

Bryson Morris #15
“We made a good recovery from contact early in the race. For my stint, it was 24th to 12th so I am happy with the spots I was able to make up. We’re still pushing for though. It’s a good circuit, but for the driver, it’s about hitting your marks and being focused. Today was the best race of the season so far and we’re making steady progress and I’m confident that we’ll be quick at Paul Ricard.”

Andres Lattore #14
“37th back to 50th and then back through the field to 25th, makes it interesting. We need to look at the stop as we lost time there with all of the cars pitting at the same time. So, from 50th with a majority of the field being Pros was a concern as I know the GT drivers are very aggressive, but I had to push and the car felt really good and I could pull away from the GTs and then it was managing the slow zones and moving through the field and passing some LMP3s. It was really fun; that’s why we love racing.”

Daniel Ali #14
“It was great to get some racing laps, in fact, we only had three proper laps for each of us, but overall, I think we exceeded expectations, and it was a good fun stint as I moved from the back of the field up 25 positions and then we had issues with the pitstop and Andres then had to do the same but we had a lot of fun.”

Ben Stone #13
“Here especially at Le Mans, it’s a bit of a lottery as to how the races pan out with so many incidents in qualifying but there are positives, driving here is very special and the sunset in FP2 was fantastic. It was a sham for Santi so now we look forward to Paul Ricard. I’ve never been, so we will do a lot of simulator work for that one.”

Santiago Concepción Serrano #13
“It’s been a really difficult week from the beginning to the end. Of course, I enjoyed every second in the car and driving is my passion but right now, after two incidents this week, it is very difficult. Racing is expensive and for me, I cannot test, so in Barcelona and here at Le Mans, it is a huge learning curve.”

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