KUMHO and Miracle take third in LMP2 at 24 Hours of Le Mans
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA..KUMHO Tire and Miracle Motorsports drove to a third place finish in the LMP2 class at the 100th anniversary running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the French race, held on June 17 and 18, Miracle co- drivers Ian James, Andy Lally and John Macaluso combined to turn 324 Laps, good for third in class and 14th overall in the 48 car field. The Miracle car covered 2,742 miles during the race and didn't experience any tire problems.
After qualifying seventh in the 12-car LMP2 class, Miracle moved up to second place and stayed there for over 13 hours of the race, from 2:30 a.m. until about 3:45 p.m. But a series of issues prevented them from closing in on the class-leading MG and prevented them from holding off a hard-charging Lola.
After resolving a misfire early in the race by replacing coil packs and plugs, Miracle's AER-powered Courage C65 ran well throughout the night, moving the team up through the field. But daylight on Sunday brought a series of problems that ultimately cost the team second place. An oil leak after sunrise required several stops to resolve. More stops were required to repair a short that took out the car's headlights. Then the team lost fifth and sixth gears, limiting the car to fourth gear on the long Le Mans straights. Finally, an exhaust leak limited the turbo's output, robbing the car of power. The gearbox and exhaust issues caused the team to circulate roughly 35 seconds off its race pace, enabling the Lola to finally snatch second place.
Even with all the issues, this was an excellent result for Miracle Motorsports and KUMHO Tires. "Everything that could go wrong did go wrong," said team owner Macaluso. "This is a brutal race, it really is. The worst part is doing the morning warmup at 9 and then starting the race at 5 p.m. It's more like the 40 hours of Le Mans."
Macaluso was proud of his crew, his co-drivers and KUMHO. "We're a small team," he said. "This is a world-class event and we're on the world's stage, and the crew showed they've got nothing to hang their heads about. My co-drivers, Ian and Andy, did a phenomenal job. I joked all week that this would be the 22 hours of Ian and Andy and the two hours of me. They did almost all of the work as far as the driving goes and they did a great job."
"It's unbelievable and indescribable to achieve a podium finish at Le Mans in just our second effort," said Macaluso. "The tires were flawless, and KUMHO's results are remarkable. It took me 35 years of racing to get to Le Mans and achieve a podium. Kumho did it in just two years."
KUMHO manager Rudy Consolacion was equally thrilled with the results. "I'm absolutely ecstatic," said Consolacion. "To finish Le Mans is one thing, but to get on the podium is just incredible, especially in just our second attempt. This has been a great experience for KUMHO and Miracle. Last year, in our first time at Le Mans, we learned a lot about what it takes to be competitive here.
"We made a big step this year, and I think all of the other tire manufacturers are taking notice. We have even more data now. We want to come back next year and be even more competitive. We want to be at the front of the grid and at the top of the podium."
KUMHO brought four new new tires to Le Mans: a full wet tire, an intermediate wet tire, a qualifying tire and a race tire.
"Our technical center in South Korea developed a race tire specifically for Le Mans based on what we learned here last year," said Consolacion. "Because the track is so smooth, we developed a tire with a stiff construction and a soft compound. We were able to triple stint the tires during the race without any issues."
Miracle used KUMHO's qualifying tire in qualifying and also in the middle of the night during the race, where the soft compound worked well in the cool temperature. "We did something we didn't think we were going to do," said Lally. "We had our softest tire, our qualifying tire, and we double-stinted it and it was great. We can still keep going with these KUMHOs and keep taking them to the next level. This is a step in the right direction."
After climbing out of the car for the final time, Ian James was spent. He did two triple stints and another nearly triple stint in the car. But that still wasn't the most time he's spent driving during a 24-hour race. "I once did 14 hours at Daytona," said James, "but Daytona is way easier than around here, especially in this car with no power steering and so much downforce. The steering effort required to turn the wheel is quite immense.
"KUMHO did a great job for us," added James. "To be on the podium at Le Mans has been a dream of mine since I was a boy. I'm going to enjoy this moment."