RAGUES ENJOYS COMPETITIVE SEASON-OPENER AT BARCELONA Frenchman Pierre Ragues got his 2008 Le Mans Series season off to a flying start by proving himself capable of fighting for a podium in the LMP2 class. Together with his Saulnier Racing team...
RAGUES ENJOYS COMPETITIVE SEASON-OPENER AT BARCELONA
Frenchman Pierre Ragues got his 2008 Le Mans Series season off to a flying start by proving himself capable of fighting for a podium in the LMP2 class.
Together with his Saulnier Racing team mate Matthieu Lahaye, Pierre was a frontrunner in the class at the Barcelona 1000 kilometres last weekend before a small but crucial electrical problem with a battery dropped them out of the leading pack. Nonetheless, the talented duo finished fifth in the class and 12th overall with their brand new Pescarolo chassis -- which had only been running for two weeks before the first LMS encounter. The crew was beaten only by three Porsches and one Lola, which were cars and drivers with far more experience in endurance racing.
The Ragues-Lahaye Pescarolo was at one point third in class and 10th overall, despite the fact that Pierre had driven less than 50 laps in the car before the race start. The 22 year-old started the race, and quickly found himself having to deal with traffic and backmarkers: a situation comparatively new to him after spending last year in the closely-matched Formula Master single-seater series.
His confidence grew with every lap, and in the middle of the race Pierre undertook a perfect double-stint -- learning more about how to handle the car and look after the tyres over a long run.
Pierre's last stint was hindered by the battery problem that forced an eight-minute pit stop while the offending unit was changed. The delay cost the drivers the chance to fight for the podium, but it was nonetheless an extremely positive debut for the all-new car.
The Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona is well-known as a very technical circuit that challenges every aspect of the cars -- making it a popular testing venue for Formula 1. Apart from the battery problem, the new Pescarolo car demonstrated perfect reliability throughout the demanding 1000 kilometre race.
"I really enjoyed Barcelona: the car feels very good and I know now that we have the pace to challenge for podiums," said Pierre. "I was still learning a lot throughout this race, but with a points finish behind us I feel that we have built a solid foundation for the rest of the year. The more I drove the more confident I felt, and I can see where we still have plenty of room to improve. The future looks very positive."
The next round of the LMS takes place at the fabled Italian circuit of Monza near Milan on April 27. Pierre and the rest of the Pescarolo team are hoping to fit in a further test session before round two of the series.