Le Mans - a tale of accidents and punctures
Saturday morning at Le Mans started with the warm-up at 9 a.m. - and our first puncture of the weekend on the first lap. Nicolas then set a time 4 seconds faster than his qualifying lap on Thursday - the car was running perfectly and all looked good for the race, which started at 5 p.m.
Finally, seven hours after the morning warm-up, the race started - Nicolas moved up a few positions straight away but after four laps reported a puncture. However, when he got back to the pits, it was discovered not to be a puncture but a collapsed stake bearing joint in the rear suspension. This joint was new before the test day so the failure must be attributed to one of the accidents that had occurred during qualifying. It was replaced, taking 50 minutes, moving the car back to 48th position.
Nicolas then drove a double stint during which time there were two more punctures - one front and one rear. The cause of these punctures - the gravel which contained flint like pieces.
After that the car ran trouble free into the night - all drivers lapping within a couple of seconds of each other. Jens had a trip into the gravel but the car was running like clockwork - no mechanical issues at all. The Storm rose to 27th position.
All changed at 7.40 a.m. when Nicolas hit the barrier at Indianapolis. He got the car back to the pit with a badly damaged front wing and front splitter. The team worked to repair the bodywork and associated damage but it was almost one hour before the car was back on track. Nicolas then went out for a couple more laps on old tyres that had been into the gravel - he set his fastest race lap and the car was quicker in a straight line than it had been all week - with a hole in the front bodywork! However, it was decided to retire the car for safety reasons - the damage from the accident had resulted in other issues.
An eventful couple of weeks at Le Mans - the LMP ran extremely well mechanically, the engine and gearbox being no problem at all - the engine has the power under acceleration but the aerodynamics prevented the ultimate top speed. The aerodynamic development of the car will continue.