Ducote claims podium finish in England
After their stunning victory at the 6 Hours of Imola in Italy earlier this summer, Chapman Ducote and teammate, Kyle Marcelli, decided to test their winning formula once again and signed on with Monaco based JMB Racing for the next race in the line of illustrious Intercontinental Le Mans Cup races. Taking England by storm, the ever-quick duo traveled to the eponymous Silverstone Circuit and teamed up with co-driver, Luca Moro, for the 6 Hours of Silverstone on September 11, 2011, in the JMB #99 Formula Le Mans car sponsored yet again by Merchant Services, LTD, a full scale credit card processing company.
“When we arrived at Imola earlier this summer, I think Kyle and I were both initially a little daunted at the task of learning a new European track during the race weekend, especially considering most of our competition had been on the circuit for years,” Ducote said. “But, in the end, this disadvantage only made our victory sweeter. Our Imola win really boosted our confidence for Silverstone, another track that neither of us had seen before the race weekend.”
I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.
The action began in the qualifying session at the fast and infamously technical Silverstone track. After little more than an hour of total practice time, Marcelli set down an incredible lap early in the qualifying session and was on his way back onto the track to fight for pole position, when the session was closed due to rain. Even in his first few laps on track, however, Marcelli had managed to clock a time good enough to secure the #99 FLM car a coveted second place starting position for the race.
Before the six hour endurance race began, the team agreed on a strategy to minimize the number of driver changes during the race, and thus their time in the pits: each of the three drivers would drive a double stint, i.e. two hours behind the wheel, before passing the baton to the next driver. For the first double stint of the race, the team put in Italian driver, Luca Moro. Moro’s stint began well, but unfortunately, due to a problem with the team’s radio, Moro failed to pit under a double yellow flag with the rest of the field, a mistake which cost the #99 car a lap. In addition, the team lost a few seconds when Moro traded some paint with a Peugeot LMP1 car that hit into Moro through no fault of his own. Despite these setbacks, Moro drove hard, and after a solid two hours stint, he was able to turn the car over to Ducote in third position in the FLM class.
Ducote drove a flawless double stint, recovered expertly from another minor collision caused by a competitor, and was able to hand over the car to Marcelli still in third position. Marcelli drove an incredible final double stint and although he consistently set down faster laps than the two leading FLM cars, there was just not enough time left in the race for him to overtake them. However, through team work and expert driving through a foreign field, the team earned a third place finish in the FLM class and claimed their spot on the podium for the prestigious 6 Hours of Silverstone, a true accomplishment by any standard.
Back in the United States, Ducote has only a few days to wash the champagne out of his driving suit, find room in his trophy case for his new British souvenir and prepare for his next race, the penultimate race in the 2011 American Le Mans Series season.
“It has definitely been taxing, both physically and mentally, to compete in two different series with two different teams at the same time and manage the almost constant travel this requires,” said Ducote, who has participated in a professional race for three consecutive weekends, “but my time with JMB Racing in Europe and the UK has added a whole new dimension to my racing skills, and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.”
Up next for Chapman Ducote, on Saturday, September 17, 2011, is the ModSpace American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron tequila at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where Ducote will team up once again with the always-quick Kyle Marcelli and Intersport Racing in the #89 LMPC machine. The Laguna Seca track, with its infamous downhill Corkscrew Turn, provides one of the most challenging single corners of the ALMS season, and promises to be full of drama. So, don’t miss a minute of the action! The race will be broadcast live on the web at ESPN3.com beginning at 1:15pm, and will be replayed for a wider television audience on September 18, 2011, at 1pm on ESPN2.