Five o'clock, back to the paddock Guillaume Moreau was forced to retire from Le Mans 24 Hours after his Courage's AER engine broke early on Sunday morning. Here is the inside story of the French driver's Le Mans debut. Sunday, June 3rd: Test...
Five o'clock, back to the paddock
Guillaume Moreau was forced to retire from Le Mans 24 Hours after his Courage's AER engine broke early on Sunday morning. Here is the inside story of the French driver's Le Mans debut.
Sunday, June 3rd: Test day
As a Le Mans rookie, Guillaume had to complete the required mileage of ten laps of the famous 13.629-kilometre circuit. He was close to finishing his eighteenth lap when he went over the inside kerb too early at the karting esses and crashed very heavily at a speed of 200 kph. The 24-year old suffered a 10G deceleration. He felt pain at his shoulder and knee, and had to be taken to the local hospital for observation. Fortunately, it soon became clear that he would be able to enter the race, but the LC70 was destroyed. Courage Competition immediately decided to try to build a new one around a spare tub.
Tuesday, June 12th: "le pesage" (scrutineering)
Finally, the team could make it to the scrutineering in time with a brand new number 13 Courage. "The team proved to be solid and determined, as they succeeded in building a new car in only 8 days. I am happy to be fit enough to compete in this great event" Guillaume Moreau said. The FFSA National Team member was also delighted to learn that Stefan Johansson was to join the squad. He could count on two former F1 drivers as team-mates: Jean-Marc Gounon took nine Grand Prix starts in the nineties, and was runner-up to. Stefan Johansson in the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours. The Swedish driver raced Spirit Honda, Tyrrell, Toleman, Ferrari, Mac Laren, Ligier, Onyx and Footwork cars in F1 between 1983 and 1991.
Wednesday, June 13th and Thursday, June 14th: qualifying sessions
Instable weather conditions made it difficult for Jean-Marc Gounon to set the car up. As Stefan Johnasson also needed mileage to get used to the car, Guillaume had to be content with a few night laps during the qualifying sessions, just to comply with the regulations. But everybody at the team was highly satisfied when Jean-Marc set 7th fastest time, after all that they'd all been through since the beginning of the month.
Friday, June 15th: the drivers' parade
"It's magic" Guillaume said after his maiden Le Mans parade. "The crowd is incredible and very close. I signed hundreds of autographs, I even signed on a credit card! The atmosphere is wonderful, it feels a little bit like the Tour de France."
Saturday, June 16th and Sunday, June 17th: the race
In front of over 250 000 spectators, the lead LMP1 Courage entry ran in the Top 10 in early stages, on a changeable track. But at 7:20 pm, Stefan Johansson had to stop with petrol feeding and oil leak difficulties. The team could fix both problems and also adapt the set-up to the dry conditions. When Guillaume left the pits for a double stint, the car had dropped to 43rd, but the three drivers could drive a strong pace during the night to recover 18th.
Guillaume got back in the car short after 3am. But the engine cut off after four laps at Arnage corner. "I could drive the car back to the pits and the team changed the oil pump." The problem repeated at 4:46 and the AER engine expired a few minutes later, forcing the car to retire. "I am disappointed because the team was not rewarded for their efforts to enable us to take part in the race. The engine's lack of reliability is putting us out of the race. I am looking forward to racing again with Jean-Marc at the Nürburgring, and to coming back to Le Mans next year."
The next Le Mans Series event will take place at the famous German venue on July 1st.