Second top-5 finish on the trot for Team Bruichladdich
For the first time in the history of the Le Mans Series, an LM P2 prototype scored a win in the overall classification. In the Hungaroring 1000 kms, six LM P2s filled the first six places including the Zytek 09S of Tim Greaves, Karim Ojjeh and Thor-Christian Ebbesvik, which saw the flag in fifth spot.
This surprising result is due mainly to the mechanical problems that hit the five LM P1 prototypes entered in the race, as well as the specific nature of the Hungaroring, a tight, twisty circuit that Karim Ojjeh liked: "I had a really good feeling right from the start and I lapped in 1m 42.8s - a good beginning." Unfortunately, Team Bruichladdich was handicapped by a series of glitches in the two free practice sessions. "We did a lot of setup work, but engine problems prevented us from fine-tuning the car as much as we'd have liked," explained Ebbesvik. "We had an oil leak," added Ojjeh. "We thought we'd solved the problem, but after the second free session we had to carry out an engine change."
"I was able to do only a few laps," regretted Greaves. "It was all the more frustrating as Zytek had given the engine a thorough revision for an identical problem after the Algarve 1000 kms."
After these setbacks, Team Bruichladdich set the seventh-quickest time in the LM P2 qualifying session. Ebbesvik did the first stint in the race, the fourth round of the Le Mans Series. He had a fairly hectic start with a minor coming together with another car in the opening laps. When Ojjeh took over, the Zytek's behaviour became more and more unpredictable. "The car was going really well and then its handling suddenly went haywire. First of all, the rear began to slide around followed by the front. I had to radio the pits to tell them that I was having to cope with heavy understeer in the fast corners."
"The mechanics made the necessary adjustments," added Ebbesvik who got back in the car for the final stint after Greaves had done his. "It was almost the full moon and everything was going well," he laughed. The Norwegian had fourth place in his pocket, and was in hot pursuit of the quick RML-entered Lola HPD coupe: "When I rejoined the car was very quick, but another couple of minor collisions made it very difficult to drive till the chequered flag."
By finishing fifth overall, Team Bruichladdich has become part of the Le Mans Series history at the end of this completely atypical race. "Twisty circuits like Valencia in the past, and Portimao and the Hungaroring this year suit the LM P2 prototypes down to the ground," summed up Ojjeh. Thanks to its second top-5 finish on the trot after the Algarve 1000 kms, third place in the overall LM P2 classification is still within Team Bruichladdich's grasp: "We're six and one points behind the two OAK Racing Pescarolos," said Ojjeh. The outcome will be decided in the Silverstone 1000 kms, the last round of the Le Mans Series 2010 season. This race is also the first event counting for the newly-created Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, and it will see the arrival of several additional entries in the LM P1 category. "The same teams will race in LM P2", concluded Ojjeh.
The reliability of the gleaming white Zytek 09S, which has retired only once this season (accident in the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 kms), and the understanding and complementarity between Tim Greaves, Karim Ojjeh and Thor-Christian Ebbesvik will be the Team Bruichladdich's most precious advantages in its battle to finish in the top 3 in the LM P2 category with Strakka Racing and RML.
-source: Team Bruichladdich