Le Mans Endurance Series team Tracsport began their preparations for the 2005 season at Le Mans on Thursday. The Daventry-based outfit were testing a Courage C65 under the guidance of works team Courage Competition for the second time in three weeks.
Tracsport are currently in late stage negotiations to purchase a new Courage C65. The team finished third overall in the LMP2 category of the inaugural Le Mans Endurance Series after racking up an impressive tally of third, fourth and fifth place in the final three rounds.
"The C65 is fantastic," John Ingram said after the test. "It is a truly amazing prototype, certainly one of the best new specification LMP2 prototypes in the world at the moment.
"Compared with the Lola B2K/40 we ran in the LMES this season, the engine is much more powerful, the chassis is stiffer and the car is more agile. It's very smooth to drive, almost like a single seater, say a Formula 3 car. The Lola B2K /40 was more of a challenge out of the corners. While the Lola is a former LMP 675 car, the Courage is a purpose-built LMP2. It's a really modern machine with a fantastic monocoque."
With Ingram enjoying a full day's running in the car a fortnight ago and Rick Pearson absent due to business commitments, John Gaw handled the majority of Thursday's driving duties on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit. "I was hugely impressed with the Courage works team," Gaw commented. "There is a close nit, family nature which Courage extends to all of the teams running their cars. Testing at Le Mans, albeit on the shortened Bugatti circuit, was a great experience.
"Driving the car was everything I expected - and more. It is hugely more powerful than the Lola B2K I'm used to. It is also significantly more stable through and in particular out of corners, with great traction and a superfast and light gearbox."
The Courage C65 is one of the most sought-after prototypes in the world. The French car beat off all comers in the LMP2 category of the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series with three wins out of three starts.
John Gaw said: "Prior to the test, I expected that driving the Courage would really highlight the great job we did this year in older equipment. We've realised this season that if you push yourself both personally in terms of your own ability and as a team in terms of what you can achieve together, then great things can happen. If we have the right kit - more power, better brakes and more downforce - then we can seriously be challenging for overall class victories next year.
In addition to a full campaign in the 2005 Le Mans Endurance Series, Tracsport are hoping to run the Courage at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in selected rounds of the American Le Mans championship. The ALMS gets underway at Sebring in California next March.