IMSA Performance qualifying report

IMSA Performance finally ready for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours The IMSA Performance Matmut team continued with their preparations for this season's Le Mans 24 Hours during yesterday's two qualifying sessions. Despite the traditional emphasis...

IMSA Performance finally ready for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours

The IMSA Performance Matmut team continued with their preparations for this season's Le Mans 24 Hours during yesterday's two qualifying sessions. Despite the traditional emphasis placed on outright speed, Patrick Pilet, Patrick Long and Raymond Narac stayed true to the team's original plans established at the start of the week by continuing to focus on race set-up and development work, as well as refinement of each and every detail.

All four hours of qualifying scheduled for Thursday afternoon and evening were completed without issue or interruption on a completely dry track. At the wheel of car #74, the trio of Long, Pilet and Narac covered a total of 24 laps, with a fastest time of 4'04.648 at an average speed of 200,551km/h, enough to line up sixth in GT2. The #70 sister car of Horst Felbermayr JR, SR and Michel Lecourt meanwhile will start 14th after a fastest lap of 4min10.014.

Raymond Narac:

"The car was ready but set-up for wet conditions so we knew we would have a little difficulty in the dry. I started with new tyres and brake disks and on the third lap started going for it. On the brakes for Indianapolis though, the car became unpredictable. It was over-steering quite a lot. I was able to turn into the slide and ended up getting the car pointing straight again on the correct racing line, although I really thought I was about to lose it. Further on in the lap, at Karting corner, with my foot on the gas, I once again experienced a lot of oversteer. Despite all of these moments I still managed to get into the 4min09s. I came back into the pits and, without wasting time, handed the car over to the team for them to make the necessary adjustments. I got back in the car towards the end of the session and that's when I discovered that it felt like it was running on rails! That's when I knew I could really begin to push hard. With our car set-up perfectly, I'm really confident for the race. Patrick Long is going to take the start on Saturday with Patrick Pilet in for the second stint. I doubt we will be doing double stints as our strategy will be quite conservative. We want to keep a high average pace of course but, more importantly, want to avoid any problems. It's much better than this time last year and that's what really makes me happy and confident for the race. The whole team has done a great job up to now."

Patrick Pilet:

"It is much easier physically and mentally to go racing in a car that is comfortable to drive. We defined a level of grip which is perfectly suited to all three drivers without looking to astonish everyone with incredible lap times. We worked hard on the racing set-up. Between Raymond's first few laps and those at the end of the session, we altered a large number of settings. The tyre pressures, roll bars, springs, suspension settings and aerodynamics, even though we didn't really have much time to make them. Furthermore, we only completed two or three lap runs which meant that we had to amass a lot of information in a very short space of time. Patrick and I work in similar ways so that obviously helps. We also worked well with the engineers who understood and interpreted our comments perfectly. We are now going to refine our racing strategy with a view to creating as few problems as possible, avoiding potential incidents which would only threaten our interests. In 2007, the team wasn't necessarily the fastest, but they were the ones to commit the least amount of errors. Tomorrow morning I'm going to sit back a bit and relax by taking part in a golf tournament. During the afternoon, we will practice our driver changes with the team in order to make them as smooth as possible for the race and identify any problems. We'll then be in the town centre in the evening for the drivers' parade greeting the huge crowds I've heard so much about."

Michel Lecourt:

"The session went quite well for me, although I waited for the track to become completely dry before feeling totally comfortable. When it did, I was able to learn more about the circuit and work on my lap-times. Despite starting to master the racing-lines, I still don't really know the place in great detail yet. I will, of course, try to do just that during the warm-up, and definitely during my first stint as I really want to exploit the car's capabilities. I think Horst Felbermayr Jr will take the start."

-credit: imsa

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Patrick Long , Raymond Narac , Patrick Pilet , Michel Lecourt
Teams IMSA Performance Matmut