Another podium to finish out the season !
Driving the Quifel-ASM Team Ginetta-Zytek with Miguel Amaral, Olivier Pla finishes second in the Le Mans Series finale.
After a win at Spa in May and a second place finish in Budapest last month, Olivier Pla knocked off a third Le Mans Series podium. During a race in which he once again found himself leading the LMP2 class, the Quifel-ASM Team driver finished on the second step of the podium with Miguel Amaral. A good way to finish the 2010 season.
The last Le Mans Series weekend started with variable weather in the form of intermittent rain around the Silverstone track. Olivier took advantage of the conditions, notching the fastest time in the second practice session and then confirmed his speed the next day in the last session with the second fastest time in the No.40 Ginetta-Zytek. Second was also how the team would finish the qualifying session, behind the untouchable HPD (Honda). At the start on Sunday, Olivier had to deal with LMP1 cars that were faster in the straights, as he explains: "I found myself blocked behind more powerful cars. One of them touched me in the third lap and I lost an aero piece. It wasn't an ideal way to start a 1000km race! Luckily, the rest of the stint was a bit more positive: I was able to extend the gap to the car behind me and consolidate our second place."
It was then Miguel Amaral's turn at the controls, who took over the lead when an incident slowed the Strakka Racing HPD. During his double stint, the Portugese driver was forced to pit to clean the radiators. And as Olivier Pla was getting back into the cockpit for another double stint, they held the lead despite the previous unscheduled one-minute stop. His new mission was to hold off the HPD. "Actually, I was unable to do anything," he said. "The engine was only running on seven cylinders instead of eight. We had a power deficit too large to fight against. Our objective was to preserve our position because we couldn't hope for better."
It's therefore in second place that the Quifel-ASM Team Ginetta-Zytek crossed the finish line. Olivier concludes: "A win and two second places in five races is a seesaw season. The retirement at the Castellet weighted heavily on the rest of the season and keeps us from having a good championship finish. We were the most competitive car behind the HPD, which was simply stronger. It's good, but we wanted more! I especially want to point out that Miguel was the fastest gentleman driver all season, and the team was always strong. I'd like to thank the whole team for the quality work that allowed us to reach the podium on three occasions."
Olivier Pla will now prepare for the 2011 season, where he will face new challenges again with the Quifel-ASM Team...