The four-hour-race at Le Castellet, forth event of the European Le Mans Series 2016, did not turn out to be a success for the Swiss Race Performance Team under the sunny skies of southern France.
After a difficult weekend the squad around team principal Urs Meier did not make it to the chequered flag due to a broken fuel pump on their LMP3 Ligier-Nissan.
The team and Marcello Marateotto had booked the track for an additional test day on Tuesday before the race, but in the end that did not really pay off either.
“There we still achieved a lot of positive experiences and did times of 1:56, 1:57”, Bert Longin, who again shared the car with Marateotto and Swiss Youngster Giorgio Maggi, recalled. “But then we had a gearbox problem and during official practise and qualifying we never managed to get under 1:57.123,” the Belgian wondered. “We had absolutely no explanation for that. We tried a lot of different settings but nothing helped. We were lacking about three seconds compared to the top LMP3 car. In the meantime we suspect that something was wrong with our engine. We have to check this now ahead of the next race at Spa.”
Giorgio Maggi was also disappointed: “I travelled to Le Castellet in a very optimistic mood and had high expectations. But unfortunately the weekend did not go as planned at all. From the beginning we had difficulties to find the right set-up,” he said after not getting on too well during the race either. “I took the car over after a short pitstop for repairs, but unfortunately driveability was not at its best. Especially in right-hand corners I had to fight severe understeer. Just before the end of my stint we encountered additional fuel pressure problems which prematurely terminated our race.”
The end came already before half time of the race, after Race Performance having done 50 laps so far. The winning Graff Ligier JS P3 of Eric Trouillet, Enzo Guibbert and Paul Petit had done 117 laps until the chequered flag dropped.
Maggi nevertheless looks optimistic into the future: “I will put this weekend behind and am really looking forward to the coming race at Spa-Francorchamps, which is absolutely my favourite track.”
At 25th of September the second to last race of this year´s ELMS series will take place there in the Belgian Ardennes region. “Until then we will hopefully be back to our normal form and be able to score some valuable points again”, also Urs Meier is adamant.
Race Performance – Wolfgang Koepp