BAD LUCK FOR RAGUES AT THE END OF A SUCCESSFUL SEASON
Frenchman Pierre Ragues suffered from bad luck at Silverstone, the final round of this year's Le Mans Series, but he has been encouraged by some strong performances throughout the season and a solid fourth place in the championship that underlines his potential.
The pairing of Ragues and his team mate Matthieu Lahaye were running fourth in the LMP2 class at Silverstone -- the home of the British Grand Prix -- but ran into trouble when the Saulnier Racing team had to fix a wheel hub problem in the closing stages of the race, costing 23 minutes. Consequently the all-French crew lost the chance of a podium finish, eventually ending the Silverstone 1000-kilometre encounter ninth in their class.
Pierre was not familiar with Silverstone before coming to the final round of the Le Mans Series, and his task was made more complicated by intermittent rain throughout the weekend. He spent most of the free practice sessions getting familiar with the British circuit and seeing how his Pescarolo-Judd handled on it. At one point in the third free practice session, the Ragues-Lahaye car was second-fastest in its class and eighth fastest overall.
Qualifying was a big adventure for the team, as they had not yet has the chance to use new tyres on a dry track. Nonetheless, Pierre was soon on the pace. He had to come back into the pits and adjust the set-up of the car during the course of the session though, so the duo emerged with 11th place on the grid. Nonetheless they were not too dissatisfied as they were only two seconds off third place.
Lahaye started the race, which was held in dry conditions, and got off to a good start before handing over to Ragues. However the team lost out badly during an initial safety car period, effectively dropping a lap. Ragues drove some fantastic stints to climb up to fourth place, but as Lahaye was about to take over the team noticed the problem with the wheel hub. Repairs were carried out, and the crew eventually finished the race ninth in LMP2 and 22nd overall.
"It was a frustrating way to end the season, particularly at a race where we clearly had the speed to do very well," said Ragues. "However, this should not take anything away from what has been an absolutely fantastic year for us. We just missed out on taking third place in the teams' standings at the end of the year, but to finish fourth behind three factory-supported Porsches is a great result. I'd like to thank the entire Saulnier Racing team for an amazing performance from start to finish, which has certainly surpassed everyone's expectations. I've enjoyed the season thoroughly and I think we've shown a lot of good improvement as it has progressed."