Class podium for Cheng Congfu at Le Mans 24 Hours
Saulnier Racing celebrated a superb Le Mans 24 Hours podium for their LMP2 Pescarolo Judd after a hugely impressive display from their young driver line up of Mathieu Lahaye, Pierre Ragues and Cheng Cong fu.
Third in class for the #35 car behind the Porsche RS Spyders of Van Merksteijn Motorsport and Team Essex was a fine achievement for the team and for the Pescarolo Automobiles Group's LMP2 car, which was making its debut at La Sarthe.
It ran perfectly for much of the race, although the team had a late scare just before midday on Sunday when a tyre deflated due to a faulty valve and caused Lahaye to have a sizeable accident with a GT2 Ferrari. However, a superb job by the LMP2 Saulnier Racing mechanics helped by the LMP1 ones meant they repaired the car, replacing the rear wing, left rear axle, extractor, left rear suspension and engine cover, in just 30 minutes. The speed of the repairs ensured they rejoined well clear of the fourth placed ASM Lola to take richly deserved podium.
"All of the guys in the team and all three drivers fully deserve this podium because we've narrowly missed out twice in the Le Mans Series this season," said Team Manager Fran0x00e7ois Sicard. "I am hugely impressed by the mature performance of the drivers. They are all young men who have graduated from single seaters, yet they have changed their mindsets to endurance racing seamlessly."
Cheng created history on Saturday morning when he became the first Chinese driver to ever start this famous race and stamped his name firmly in his country's record books by becoming the first of his countryman to finish and stand on the podium. "I'm so proud for my country," he said. "I'm thrilled to have played my part for this team and my two team mates, as they are both excellent drivers and I didn't want to let them down. We've become great friends and I'm sure we'll stay in touch on Facebook! This is such a hard race even more than I ever imagined. It's not so much the physical effort but a mental one and that makes it very, very tiring."
Cheng Congfu expressed all his happiness on his face. "To be on the podium here is the best feeling I have ever had and I still can't believe it. It is extraordinary. Standing on the podium at Le Mans alongside the drivers from Porsche is a dream for me and gives me huge belief for the future. My head is still full of the race and I think it will take a while for me to come back down to earth! I am very happy to share my first Le Mans 24 Hours podium with all."
After Le Mans, Cheng Congfu will focus on the fourth race of F3 Euro Series on June 29.