On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week the Swiss Spirit racing team completed a successful two-day test at Magny Cours in France, as preparation for this weekend's Spa 1000kms, round two of the five-race Le Mans Series.
Following their debut in the season-opener at Istanbul last month, the newly-set up team were well aware that, while they had displayed encouraging pace, they still had to work on improving the car's reliability if they were to achieve their goals of podium finishes in Le Mans Series races this year and a top-six finish at Le Mans in June.
Hence the trip to Magny Cours where the team were delighted to complete over 1,200 kms in testing. The running was not yet entirely trouble-free, but proved very successful at highlighting and solving a variety of small issues, as team-boss Serge Saulnier explains:
"It was a positive test -- 1,200kms over the two days is a significant amount of consistent running and has really helped us make progress on a number of things - for example, the chassis set-up, which we worked on with both drivers to help them become more comfortable with the car. I am hoping we will improve the aero-balance of the car still further with new parts from Courage which will be available in Spa next week.
"For now though, we need to continue to work on some reliability issues which still create problems -- we currently have some problems with the starter motor and the gearbox but we are working hard with our suppliers and I am confident that we have time to resolve these before Spa. Everybody in the team is gelling well and once we find reliability rather than pure speed I will allow myself to be happy with our progress -- but for now we still have some work to do."
Swiss driver Harold Primat echoed his boss's comments: "I am pleased that we made a lot of progress, but we were still hampered slightly by some mechanical issues. Having said that our lap times were very favourable when compared to the Creation and the new Zytek -- both of which I think provide a good benchmark. I expect we'll be on top of things at Spa and given that it is a favourite track of both mine and my team mate's, you'll see us both trying very hard to make the most of our package."
Harold's team mate, Marcel Fassler: "I love Spa! As does just about every other driver I know who has raced there. However, I am especially excited this time as I think the circuit will really suit these cars -- far more so than, for example, Formula 3 cars, which almost feel underpowered for such a big circuit. Spa is very fast and flowing so to feel like you are really on the limit you need a very powerful car with a lot of downforce, which is exactly what an LMP1 car provides. You can never say what the weather will do in Spa, but rain or shine I'm looking forward to my first trip through Eau Rouge!"