Silverstone: Yann Clairay race report

A season of podiums After wrapping up their Le Mans Series GT1 championship crown at the Nurburgring meeting, Yann Clairay and the Luc Alphand Aventures team concluded the season with 3rd place in the Silverstone 1000-kilometre race. Chequered...

A season of podiums

After wrapping up their Le Mans Series GT1 championship crown at the Nurburgring meeting, Yann Clairay and the Luc Alphand Aventures team concluded the season with 3rd place in the Silverstone 1000-kilometre race. Chequered flags and podiums featured in all six races in which Yann took part at the wheel of the team's Corvette. Despite the incredible series of dramatic events it had to face this year, the team from Sarthe booked itself two tickets for the next Le Mans 24 Hours thanks to 2nd place in this year's 24-hour race and its LMS title. In terms of drivers the common denominator of these two achievements is Yann Clairay!

The omens for this final event in the Le Mans Series calendar were not good as the team's truck caught fire on the way to Albi, destroying both the truck and one of its two Corvettes, along with most of its equipment. The car that usually races in the LMS had to be hastily sent down to the Tarn in time for the two FFSA French GT championship races where, unfortunately, it too got damaged when it spun off the track!

That probably had something to do with why No. 72 was not able to take part in open practice on Friday at Silverstone. Yann soon found out that the steering was not working due to a broken rack! Two team members were dispatched to Belgium to collect a spare part. The car was ready on Saturday morning in time for Yann to take part in the 3rd session of free practice. "We didn't have time to set the car up properly, so the team decided to gamble on fitting soft compound tyres for qualifying. It wasn't enough to disguise the lack of set up but it enabled me to vie for pole position. Since we have to keep the same tyres on for the first race I only did two flying laps. I was quick through the first two segments but in both laps I made a slight mistake in the third and most twisty segment. It was a shame because but for 134 thousands of a second I would have qualified ahead of both the Saleen and the Aston Martin and clocked the fastest time."

The start of the race promised to be awkward on soft tyres. "Things went reasonably well for three laps but then the car's performance fell off dramatically. We were expecting this so I made a pit stop to mount medium compound tyres." The Corvette settled into a more pacy rhythm after that and was able to keep up the pressure on its two rivals. The Gigawave Aston Martin proved to be slightly more at ease than its rivals on the British circuit and logically enough it took first place in the category, one lap ahead of the Saleen and two ahead of the valiant Clairay/Goueslard/Jousse crew, which never gave up the fight. We will end up regretting this GT1 category! The competing cars, despite their different architectures, had evenly matched levels of performance. The lack of numbers in the 2009 season rarely had an adverse effect on the suspense and keenness of the competition. It was often the drivers that made the difference.

No. 72 did justice to its crown in front of a happy Luc Alphand, so pleased to be able to support his troops in person for the first time since his motorbike accident. "We managed to finish the race, which was quite a feat given what the team has been through," said Yann. "It's satisfying for the guys after they put in so much effort. For Silverstone we only had three sets of wheels, no spare gear ratios, no springs, no dampers, just the bare minimum. The net result is positive, we have been improving all season long." Now it's time to dream and build for the future!

-credit: yannclairay.com

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Luc Alphand , Yann Clairay