British team equal best-ever Le Mans overall finish for LM P2 class car.
JOTA Sport claimed a stunning class victory – an incredible fifth overall – in arguably the most famous motor race in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours, last weekend (14-15 June).
Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey steered their JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN to LM P2 category honours in the 82nd running of the gruelling twice-around-the-clock sportscar endurance race in France.
The Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey Zytek clocked up 356-laps equating to 3,016-miles at an average speed of 125.14mph in the world’s toughest sportscar race.
The JOTA team finished one-lap ahead of its nearest rival in the ultra-competitive 17-car LM P2 field to mark the British team’s eighth appearance at Le Mans in exceptional style.
All three British drivers drove faultless and consistently fast laps during their stints behind the wheel of the British-built Zytek sportscar running on Dunlop tyres.
The only unscheduled pit-stop occurred early in the race to repair some bodywork costing a seven-minutes.
Turvey had only flown out to join the team on Thursday morning after a last minute call-up after Marc Gené, Audi Sport’s “reserve” driver who had been loaned to JOTA, was recalled by the German team. Oliver had not sat in the JOTA Zytek since last September while last weekend’s race was his first of the year.
JOTA Sport’s next race is the third round of the European Le Mans Series at the Red Bull Ring on 20 July. Dolan, Tincknell and Filipe Albuquerque (P) plus JOTA Sport are placed second in the Drivers’ and Team’s standings going into the four hour race in Austria.
Simon Dolan (GB). Age 45. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC)
Le Mans 24Hr: 2011 DNF (JOTA Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT2 LMGTE Pro); 2012 DNF (JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN LM P2); 2013 13th o/a / 7th LM P2 (JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN LM P2). Le Mans History: Début 2011. Other 24Hr races: 1st GT4 2010 Spa 24 Hours (Aston Martin V8 Vantage); 2010 2nd GT4 BritCar 24 Hours (Silverstone).
“I can’t put my feelings into words – it’s like I am going to wake up from an incredible dream. I never thought it was possible to come back after our dramas with the bodywork early on.
“Harry did an amazing job on his Le Mans debut – the team is stunned by his pace, consistency and maturity. Meanwhile considering Oliver’s last minute call-up, he drove absolutely brilliantly for us.
“I am also happy with the way I drove with no real errors. I think it is the first Le Mans that I have done where I have really enjoyed driving and that was a nice feeling to actually go out and have fun. To finish fifth overall at Le Mans is something I’d never contemplated – I’m stunned.”
Oliver Turvey (GB). Age 27. Born & Lives: Penrith, Cumbria
Le Mans 24Hr: 2013 13th o/a / 7th LM P2 (JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN LM P2). Le Mans History: Début 2013. Other 24Hr races: None.
“It’s been a crazy few days! To get a call from JOTA Sport at the last minute to come over to Le Mans on Thursday and race has been unreal. The team did a great job while Harry and Simon both drove brilliantly especially in getting the car set up so well for the race.
“The car was great from start to finish. We had a difficult start when the rain came and we had the problem with the bodywork but we didn’t let it get us down.
“We pushed very hard through the night and kept chasing down the leaders on Sunday morning. I really thought it was going to be tricky to even get back on to the podium, let alone win, but Sam Hignett just told us all ‘to go for it’.
“Like Simon and Harry, I pushed as hard as I could. I was in the car at the end and it was quite nerve-wracking. But I love leading and once I was in that position I wasn’t about to let it go.
“It is my first race of the year and only my second Le Mans – it’s unreal – but I’m just so happy for the JOTA team.”
Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group: “Winning Le Mans is what we founded JOTA Sport for in many respects – it was my dream, my ambition, and winning an event of this calibre is what the business is based and focussed towards. To win Le Mans is a really big achievement for what is in affect a small team.
All three drivers did a fantastic job and followed our instructions to keep off the kerbs to stop the potential of causing suspension problems. I felt confident that if we got out into the lead after our final pit-stop the race was ours and that’s how it turned out thanks to great work by the crew who have all worked tirelessly leading up to this year’s race.
We lost two laps early on with a bodywork issue that required the car going into the garage for a few minutes to make repairs. Additionally a little time was lost when we put Oliver out on ‘intermediates’ as opposed to ‘wets’ on Saturday afternoon and the track dried faster than we’d anticipated so we lost time and Simon briefly had a handling problem in the early hours of Sunday morning caused by debris.”