Alongside executing test programmes the team’s other objective was to ensure Le Mans rookie Bradley completed his mandatory 10 laps.
KC Motorgroup Ltd (KCMG) successfully completed the Le Mans 24 Hours official Test Day last Sunday (June 1) with its #47 Oreca 03-R finishing as the fifth fastest LMP2 runner in both sessions. The eight-hour test – split into two four-hour periods – provided the Chinese squad with its first opportunity to assess their upgraded machine’s technical capabilities on the Circuit de la Sarthe’s complex 13.629km configuration.
The Test Day festivities began with all but three of the 56 entries confirmed by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest lined up on the legendary La Sarthe track for Administrative Checking and Scrutineering. Represented by Richard Bradley, Matt Howson and Alexandre Imperatori, KCMG fielded their updated Nissan-powered #47 Oreca 03-R throughout the weekend.
Alongside executing test programmes and simulations for actual race conditions on La Sarthe’s unique track, the team’s other objective was to ensure Le Mans rookie Bradley completed his mandatory 10 laps. The 22-year-old Briton ran the required number during the first session, meaning he will make his Le Mans race debut on June 14/15. Howson logged a total of 12 laps, while Swiss team-mate Imperatori placed the blue-and-white #47 LMP2 fifth in class after setting a best time of 3m41.721secs during his final lap of the morning.
The second session was interrupted by multiple safety car periods due to problems suffered by other drivers on the iconic-but-challenging circuit. Furthermore, technical issues called for an extended pit stop that cost valuable time and cut KCMG’s running short in the afternoon. Nonetheless, the team recovered and wrapped up Sunday’s final test session in fifth place after Imperatori set his best time of 3m39.475secs during the closing minutes.
The Chinese team clocked a total of 67 laps throughout the two four-hour sessions, concluding the official Test Day with encouraging results ahead of Le Mans 24 Hours qualifying on June 11/12.
Richard Bradley: “Overall, it was a very productive test and my main objective to deliver the mandatory 10 laps to qualify for the race was completed smoothly. I also managed to clock a good number more laps on this amazing track while setting competitive lap times. Red flags disrupted our schedule slightly, meaning we weren’t able to run new tyres, but apart from that it was a great start for the team on a very special circuit.”
Matt Howson: “The first official Le Mans test was a real success. We ran with a new aero kit from Oreca for the first time that performed extremely well. We had a few technical problems which limited running in the afternoon, but every change we made improved the car further. We’re very happy with the machine we’re running and we certainly have a team of fast drivers. Next up is qualifying and, as long as we remain consistent, we can challenge for LMP2 victory.”
Alexandre Imperatori: “The Le Mans test day went well and thankfully the weather remained flawless, meaning we could gather a decent amount of data that we will go through before race week. Unfortunately, we ran into some small issues that restricted our running, but better for this to happen now than in the race! Our overall feeling with the car is good and we already know where we can gain more time, so I am really looking forward to being back here in 10 days. Driving at Le Mans is always an amazing experience like no other!”
Paul Ip, KCMG Managing Director: “We are satisfied with the results that we delivered during the test sessions and it’s evident that the team is continuing to improve in every area. We wanted to cover more miles since this is our first time running the Oreca–Nissan package at La Sarthe. Nevertheless, the car’s performance over the weekend exceeded expectations. We have a strong driver line-up and an efficient crew behind a very competitive car. Our focus now shifts to qualifying which is less than two weeks away.”