MISSION ACCOMPLISHED FOR CREATION
Third place in the LMP1 class at Jarama today was enough for Creation to claim second place in the final Teams' classification and secure a coveted entry to the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans. Creation tied on points with the Chamberlain Synergy team but was placed second by virtue of its 2nd place finish at the Nurburgring which is a higher placed finish than Chamberlain has managed.
It was not, however, an easy Spanish race for the British team and its CA06/H, competing in its last race in Europe, suffered from tyre problems, a fuel pick-up issue and -- by the end of the race -- had lost 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears. Nicolas Minassian, who was driving for the final hour of the six-hour event, nursed the car round to take the chequered flag in 4th place behind Champions Pescarolo Sport, a superb 2nd place performance from the Iberian LMP2 entry of ASM Racing Portugal, and the Swiss Spirit Courage. The Swiss Spirit car was driven by Harold Primat who will be joining Minassian and Jamie Campbell-Walter at next weekend's Petit Le Mans.
While delighted with the overall outcome of the season, Team Principal Ian Bickerton admitted that it wasn't the way in which he'd have liked to round off the season. "It was mission accomplished as far as the Championship was concerned, but it was a difficult weekend. We had the wrong tyres for this race and we couldn't really do a lot about that. Michelin tried to find us some others but it didn't really solve the problem so we were always up against it. In the race we only had a 60 litre fuel tank because of a pick up problem from the get-go, so we were always going to have to do more stops than most people (8 stops to most other teams' 5). On top of that we had a puncture with Beppe, and a bit of a starter problem, so I'd have to say in the end we were really lucky to get third in class. But, hey, you have to take the luck."
Nicolas Minassian preferred not to dwell on the race but to focus on the season's results. "It's perfect for the team and all I wanted this weekend is to do whatever I could to get 2nd place [in the Championship] and we got it. The team has got its Le Mans entry and everyone worked really hard for that over the weekend and can walk away head held high. It has been brilliant. It's been a funny race in the end but I don't want to go into that too deeply. For the first time for Creation we weren't on the pace, but we were reliable enough to get to the finish and we found a way of still being enough at the front to count."
Beppe Gabbiani reflecting on his season in the Le Mans Series, said: "I am very happy even if we did have some problems at the beginning of the year. With a bit more luck we might have been racing for the Championship here and not second, but maybe next year!"
Felipe Ortiz: "This track wasn't ideal for our car with its small wheels as we saw from the lap times, which were much less on the pace than usual. Our race strategy was therefore the only one available to us which was consistency, reliability and to stay out of trouble and that's what we tried to do. It's a bit disappointing as in the other races the car was very competitive and the podium was much easier to achieve than this one. Personally I am happy with my two stints but we were always too slow to be a real threat to the Pescarolo car."
The team now faces a new race, against time, to pack up whatever is needed for the forthcoming American Le Mans Series and air freight it to Atlanta. The car has already gone but much of the team's equipment has been in use this weekend and leaves at midnight tonight from Madrid to start its journey westward across the Atlantic.