Jan Charouz and Vincent Capillaire has finished in second place the second round of the European Le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Imola.
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s #24 ORECA 03 - driven by Jan Charouz (CZ) and Vincent Capillaire (FR) - has finished in second place the second round of the European Le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Imola, following a heroic display of strategy and driving to take the team’s first ELMS podium since the 6 Hours of Le Castellet, in avril 2012.
The team returned to LMP2 racing at the ELMS season-opener at Silverstone last month following a year break to focus on GT racing. With its sights set on LMP2 success at the world-famous Le Mans endurance event, the team is now in a strong position going into the race in less than a month.
Vincent Caplillaire started the Italian round of the ELMS from ninth on the grid. The experienced driver from Le Mans valiantly worked his way up through the pack before making the team’s first pit-stop and driver change.
“We struggled in qualifying but the team worked hard before the race and did an amazing job. We pushed hard and made no mistakes. The strategy was good and it meant that even with our penalty, we were able to finish in second place. It was fantastic to be on the podium and the whole team deserved it! We now look forward to Le Mans.”
Jan Charouz took over and continued with the charge, working the car up to fourth before handing back over to Capillaire after 1 hour and 40 minutes – the maximum stint length allowed for an FIA gold-rated driver.
Capillaire took over once again for the final stint and, despite a stop and go penalty, closing down the #43 Morgan-Judd of Morand Racing at around a second a lap at the turn of the final hour. He continued to lap faster than the three LMP2 cars ahead, before the #53 Signatech Alpine was forced to pit for a splash of fuel, moving the #24 ORECA 03 up to third.
Just before the last lap, the second place car of Moran Racing ran out of fuel and stopped on track. It managed to start again but not before Caplillaire passed him to take second place.
After 138 laps of trouble-free racing, the car crossed the line and the pair stood on the second step of the podium, a fantastic result for the second race of the team’s return to LMP2 racing.
“It was very important that today went well,” comments the team’s technical director Leo Thomas. “There is no better way than to arrive at Le Mans with a good spirit for the team and for the drivers. We are quite a new team so it’s good that we know we work well together.
“We’ve come a long way since Silverstone and we expect with our new tyres at Le Mans to improve our pace dramatically. Everyone did a great job this weekend and the podium is testament to the hard work and determination of the whole team.”
Sébastien Loeb Racing will next race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 14 June and René Rast,will join Charouz and Capillaire behind the wheel. It will also take part in the official Le Mans test session on 1 June.
Sébastien Loeb Racing