LMP1: Lotus-Rebellion extended its lead in the LMP1 Team Trophy for privateers, finishing fourth and sixth overall. Neel Jani made up one place from his P5 grid slot at the start and then gave chase to the dominant works Audis andToyota. After a trouble-free first stint in the six hour marathon, he handed driving duties to Nicolas Prost.
Unfortunately his #12 car spun after contact with the GT #57, which had already traded paint with the #1 Audi. The Lotus-Rebellion team was forced to pit to change tyres and was then handed a stop-go penalty. Come the next driver change, damaged bodywork was replaced costing the Swiss team more vital time.
Jani retook control and pushed to recover from seventh and finished the race sixth overall and third in the privateer class.
The sister #13 car, starting with Andrea Belicchi at the wheel from P6, made up places. Harold Primat took the second stint, which was equally strong and finished ahead of Jani and Prost in fourth position and first of the non-works outfits.
Neel Jani: “I made a good start and put in a strong triple stint. At the mid race, we were, with Nico, fourth overall, one minute ahead of the petrol cars. The penalty and the unscheduled stops ended our race because we lost more than two minutes doing this, and as all the cars were driving more or less at the same speed, it has been impossible to catch up again. It’s a pity but we have taken the points we could take. We are now fourth in the driver classification and are still aiming for the third place. And we are leading the FIA WEC Trophy of Best Privateer Team.”
Harold Primat: “We have had a trouble free race. In a way, we have taken benefit of the troubles of our sister car #12 but it is good to see that when one car of the team can’t succeed, the other one can. It shows that we are a strong team and I’m happy with that. Personally, I feel more competitive and we’ll have to be more and more efficient to stay ahead.”
LMP2: With regular driver Luca Moro having to skip Round 4 of the WEC for personal reasons, former F1 driver Christijan Albers joined the Lotus LMP2 team in the #31 car, alongside Thomas Holzer and Mirco Schultis. Kevin Waeda, James Rossiter and Vitantonio Liuzzi took up the fight in the #32 machine.
Works driver Rossiter celebrated his birthday on Saturday with LMP2 P7 in qualifying (14te overall), while Holzer put the sister car in P14.
Unfortunately the #32 car was unable to make the distance in Sunday’s endurance race. An engine change meant Rossiter had to start from the pitlane and a lap down. He fought successfully to make up positions but then had to pit with a broken exhaust. Waeda attempted the second stint but had to pull over after a few laps due to engine failure.
Car #31 finished 12th in LMP2. Due to an unplanned service on the last lap the result is not as strong as had been hoped.
Thomas Holzer: “Today, we got a lot of track experience and learned a lot about the car. We had the race speed and could do constant lap times. We are improving race by race and this is important for us.”
James Rossiter: “It is a shame we couldn’t finish the race after we experienced another engine failure. After we had to start from the pitlane, I was able to overtake a lot of cars and make up many positions. Suddenly, the exhaust broke and the engine wiring loom caught fire. There was a lot of smoke in the cockpit and I wasn’t able to see anything. The mechanics couldn’t fix the car again and the engine failed again. It is just a weekend to forget.”