A disappointing kick-off for Olivier Pla Reigning champion of the Le Mans Series LMP2 class, the driver from Toulouse expected a lot from the first round. He unfortunately had to retire. Olivier Pla started his third season with Quifel-ASM...
A disappointing kick-off for Olivier Pla
Reigning champion of the Le Mans Series LMP2 class, the driver from Toulouse expected a lot from the first round. He unfortunately had to retire.
Olivier Pla started his third season with Quifel-ASM Team last weekend after he won twice and set three poles in 2009. He has been in Top 3 for a while with teammates Miguel Amaral and Warren Hughes and the Ginetta-Zytek 09S, which now has a new aero package. The Portuguese team failed in their quest of a podium after they lost three laps to fix the car and then had a steering issue.
The Quifel-ASM Team ran for the first time the new bodywork developed by Zytek over the winter during Friday's practice sessions. These sessions have also been a test session for the team and the drivers. "It was a leap in the dark for us as we never run with this aero package before," Oliver said. "We tried to quickly find out a good balance. The car was quite difficult to drive during the first laps, but the team could improve it little by little."
The hard work paid off when the driver from Toulouse qualified second behind the new HPD (Honda) car. "We are still short of performance" Olivier nevertheless confirmed. "We have to be quicker. The new aero package didn't come up to our expectations yet."
At the beginning of the race, Olivier was running second and could keep the pace, a few seconds behind the HPD. He double-stinted his tires, and could take the lead for a few minutes. He was still second when he handed on to Miguel Amaral, who also took the lead for a while. The Portuguese driver has unfortunately been hit by another prototype, as Olivier explained: "The contact was not intentional, but it took us three laps to fix the flat bottom. The podium was gone and we could only aim to score a few points."
After Warren Hughes' stint, Olivier could catch up and was sixth in the class, but the steering broke and he had to give up in the 7th hour. He concluded: "I have to admit that this is adisappointing kick off for the season. Without these problems, we could be on the podium, but we now leave the Castellet circuit with a huge scoring handicap. We still have a lot of work to go to understand the new aero package. We must arrive stronger at Spa so we can recover."
The next race will be round two of the Le Mans Series at Spa (Belgium) on Sunday, May 9.
-source: olivier pla