Soheil Ayari and Anthony Pons avoided trouble in an action packed race to take their first victory of the season. The 3 Hours of Silverstone, first round of the 2013 European Le Mans Series, was run under particularly difficult weather conditions.
In fact, race direction showed the red flag to stop the race with 40 minutes to the finish. Soheil Ayari and Anthony Pons, despite an rib injury, begin the season on a high note for Team Endurance Challenge, finishing ahead of Gary Hirsch and Paul Loup Chatin, who started from the LM PC pole position. Unfortunately Matthieu Lecuyer and Alex Loan were forced to retire.
You had to have a little luck and manage your efforts to avoid pitfalls. At times we just tried to surviive. Sometimes we could attack.
The race went well and it’s great to start with a win. Keeping in mind that Anthony has broken ribs, we didn’t count on winning. He gritted his teeth so bravo to him for such tenacity !"
Anthony Pons (Team Endurance Challenge, ORECA-FLM 09 #48), 1st LM PC : "Because of the injury, my beginnings in endurance racing were a little complicated. Physically it wasn’t easy and the fact that we raced in the rain meant it was a little less difficult on me.
During practice I really enjoyed myself. Afterwards, it was more difficult. Soheil did most of the work : it was his stint under horrible conditions that made the difference. I’m looking forward to Imola !"
At the start, given on a wet track, Paul Loup Chatin kept the advantage that comes with pole position while driving the No.49 ORECA-FLM 09. He was leading the No.47 of Soheil Ayari, while Alex Loan, in the No.48 was taken victim of the treacherous conditions. At this point, the safety car made its first appearance.
After three laps, the restart was given and competitors entered the pits to change to wet weather tyres. Consistent, Paul Loup Chatin and Soheil Ayari maintained a similar pace to the LM P2 for the first hour.
While the No.48 continued its charge back up the field, reaching fourth place, the No.49 was forced to pit to replace a front cover thanks to an incident caused by aqua planning in the second hour.
At this point, Gary Hirsch replaced Paul Loup Chatin, imitated 10 minutes later by Anthony Pons who took over for Soheil Ayari. The safety car made its second appearance, with incidents due to the weather beginning to multiply.
With 40 minutes to go, race direction decided to stop the race due to apocalyptic weather conditions. Soheil Ayari and Anthony Pons took honors ahead of Hirsch/Chatin and Lecuyer/Loan.
Team Endurance Challenge