The start into the new season could rarely see a more attractive stage for the Swiss Race Performance Team: The first race of the 2016 European Le Mans Series will take place on the 16th of April at Silverstone and on the same weekend as the start of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
The first of six 4-hour races that will decide who will be crowned European Le Mans Series champion 2016 will be held on the full 5.9km Grand Prix circuit in Northamptonshire and has attracted a mammoth entry of 45 cars and 126 drivers from all around the world.
Race Performance will be part of this attractive long distance racing series again this year, taking part in two categories, with the well-established LMP2 Oreca 03 Judd and a new LMP3 Ligier JS P3 Nissan.
Race Performance – MOMO Megatron #34 Oreca Judd LMP2
Swiss driver Niki Leutwiler, already Asian Le Mans Champion 2015/2016 with Race Performance, will share the LMP2 car with British sportscar driver James Winslow and Franck Mailleux from France, who already raced for Performance Race in 2014.
After the very productive testing at Le Castellet in March team principal Michel Frey is now aiming for immediate points for the team: “In France we still had a few problems to adapt to the new Dunlop tyres. But we managed to use the weeks after the tests intensively and I am convinced that we will be able to show our usual strength at Silverstone. In 2014 we had a real tight race here and finished second in the end, so I hope we can go on from there…”
Franck Mailleux is already looking forward to the weekend: “Silverstone is one of my favourite tracks I had some good moments there especially back in 2014 with Race Performance when we had a shot for victory and eventually finished second. I am sure that with our proven package, we will be able to be the most consistent and have an opportunity to achieve a great result to start the season. I am very thankful to Michel, Urs and Niki to offer me the opportunity to race there.“
James Winslow agrees: “I’m looking forward to working with the Race Performance crew again in this years ELMS. Silverstone is my home track and after working at the circuit for five years as driver coach, it’ll be great to go back. I’ll be driving with two great drivers in Nikki and Frank & we will be a very strong driver/team combination.”
Niki Leutwiler also hints at the slight problems managing the switch from the Michelin to the Dunlop tyres: “After a rather difficult prologue test session due to the new generation tyres, we are all the more anxious to get to Silverstone”, he says. “In the past our car usually worked well there and given my co-drivers pedigree I am looking forward to get on this driver’s track we all love and see where we can get to.”
Race Performance – MOMO Megatron #8 Ligier JS P3 LMP3
Italo-Swiss Marcello Marateotto, 18-year-old Giorgio Maggi from Switzerland and 50-year-old Belgium Bert Longin make for a quite interesting mixture of youth and experience in the LMP3 car. Team principal Frey points out: „Even as we haven´t done too many kilometers yet with the new LMP3 car, the tests in France clearly showed that we are getting a better and better understanding of the car and the drivers already can handle it quite well. Our guys are really equally matched and I am confident that over the race distance we can reach a top result, even if we might still be lacking some qualifying speed now at the very beginning of the season.”
Youngster Giorgio Maggi is more than keen to finally get into ELMS racing: „During the tests we did a lot of laps and collected valuable data. I got to know the Nissan Ligier JS P3 very well – and I rate the car really high. I see our team Race Performance and myself well prepared for Silverstone. This traditional circuit with its unique track layout will be a special challenge for me which I am really looking forward to.”
Like Marcello Marateotto, 2015 Champion of the Radical European Masters-Supersport, well-experienced Bert Longin is also very positive going into the new season: “The atmosphere is very good between us drivers and within the whole team, I felt immediately very welcome at the tests. Other teams might have done more testing and gotten more information and data for the drivers and also for engineer and team. But we made a lot of progress during the two days and also learned a lot”, the Belgian comments.
“Now we have to continue this way. But the most imported in to put all the energy, all our one hundred percent motivation, into the team and into the race, so that we will learn even more. We need a clever strategy for Silverstone – and then build onto the experience of this weekend for the next races.”