The season got off to a good start for IDEC SPORT with the crew of the Oreca #28 stepping onto second place on the podium after an exciting race. The Ligier #27 went back into the pits and did not come out again because of a problem with the rear left.
After four hours of racing on the Paul-Ricard circuit, the crew of the Oreca #28 comprising Paul Lafargue, Memo Rojas and Paul-Loup Chatin took second place at the first meeting of the European Le Mans Series.
The Oreca performs well
At 12.30, Paul Lafargue got off to a good start and remained in second place right behind the lead car. The first lap was a sprint with positions changing rapidly. Some of the competitors took advantage of the battle at the front to overtake. But the silver driver managed to keep up the pace of the leaders.
Memo Rojas took over the wheel after a double stint by Paul. With the pit stops seeing lots of changes in positions, IDEC SPORT remained determined. Paul-Loup Chatin was given the task of finishing the race. The 27 year old driver found a fast pace and resisted the pressure from G-Drive and Duqueine Engineering. After covering 135 laps or more than 790 kilometres, the Oreca #28 crossed the finish line in second place. This result rewards all the hard work done by the IDEC SPORT team during the preparation for the season.
Quotes from the drivers
Paul Lafargue: “It’s a great start. The rivals we wanted to see behind us are indeed behind us. We’re pleased but we’ll be trying to take first place next time. The standard is very high this year. The finish was very close with the first five on the same lap.”
Paul-Loup Chatin: “The car was good and I managed a good handover. I wasn’t in danger from those chasing me and those ahead were too far ahead and had good tyres on, so it wasn’t worth attempting to go on the attack. You have to remain reasonable and get a good result. It’s frustrating not to win, but we set off in second place and finished second, after spinning twice during the race. That means we could have done better. We’re going to enjoy ourselves as it is a good outcome. We’ll be even more confident in Monza.”
Memo Rojas: “I’m really pleased to make it to the podium. It’s a great way to start the championship, even if we would have preferred to finish on top. It’s encouraging and I’m pleased about the work done by the team. The car was perfect and we didn’t have any problems.”
The Ligier did not finish the race
For his first LMP2 race, Stéphane Adler was given the task of starting with the Ligier #27. During the grid lap, the Ligier was forced to go back to the pits with a problem preventing it from setting off again. In spite of the rapid response from the mechanics, the car was unable to line up on the grid on time. It had to wait in the pit-lane for the pack to complete a lap.
With a lap lost, Stéphane Alder has to be consistent to return to the GT and LMP3 category. The driver just starting in the top category in the ELMS managed that perfectly and managed to find his way through the other cars. Before finishing his double stint, Stéphane encountered brake problems, but his driving was faultless. When Erik Maris took the steering wheel, the Ligier was forced to return to the pits. The race ended on the 49th lap for #27 because of a problem with the left hand rear, which could not be repaired.
The next leg of the ELMS will take place at Monza on 12th May. Before that, IDEC SPORT will compete in the Spa 12 hour race in the 24-Hour Series with the Mercedes AMG GT3 on 19th and 20th April.