Swiss Spirit final report

EXCELLENT START ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT FOR SWISS SPIRIT The Swiss Spirit team's 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans ended in disappointment during the night, when its Courage LC70's gearbox failed and the team was forced to retire in the eighth hour of the...

EXCELLENT START ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT FOR SWISS SPIRIT

The Swiss Spirit team's 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans ended in disappointment during the night, when its Courage LC70's gearbox failed and the team was forced to retire in the eighth hour of the race. It was a particularly bitter blow, as it was successfully running in fifth place at the time and had enjoyed a trouble-free run.

Team Manager Serge Saulnier explains what happened; "Marcel took the start for two stints, followed by Harold and Philipp, each for two stints. Marcel then took over for the first of the night-time triple stints and climbed to fourth position overall, which was very encouraging. Harold took over and his first stint went without a hitch. However, at the beginning of his second, he began to experience problems with the gearbox. He came in to the pits and we investigated but could not identify a problem from the outside. He went back out and it soon became clear that there were big problems internally in the gearbox. The temperature started to climb, which we think was because the oil pump for the gearbox failed. As the temperature rose, eventually the gearbox casing became damaged inside and as the regulations state we are not allowed to change the casing, that was the end of our race. It is very frustrating for the drivers and the whole team, as until that point, the car ran without any problems and the drivers were doing an excellent job, getting up to fifth and securing that position."

Philipp Peter, driving for the Swiss team for the first time, was equally frustrated by the premature end of their race. "It's a great shame, as we were right on the target that we set ourselves at the beginning of the race, which was to be running in the top five. The car felt good, the pace was there and none of the drivers made any mistakes. A sad way to end this year's race."

Le Mans debutant Marcel Fassler turned in an impressive performance, despite admitting to still learning the La Sarthe circuit. "Of course I am very disappointed, because we were looking forward to finishing the race. However, running with the pace that we had and up to fourth, we were very pleased. But, of course, it's all about finishing at Le Mans. I have enjoyed my first 24 Hours -- it's really something to be here and the atmosphere is incredible. I definitely want to do this race again and next time, I want to finish!"

Harold Primat was bitterly disappointed that such a promising performance should be cut short; "At my first Le Mans, I didn't get much running in the car. This time, the team was much more prepared. I think we showed what we are capable of, even though it's still early in our program. We knew the gearbox was the car's weak point, so it's a shame because everyone worked so hard. I was very pleased with my stints -- I did what I was supposed to do with no mistakes. It has also given me much more experience of this race and how tough it is. So next year, I will be even better prepared for the challenge.

But we're encouraged -- it's the first time the team has done Le Mans and I feel we have demonstrated we are serious. I think we can mount a stronger challenge next year and try to be closer to the Audis and Pescarolos at the greatest race in the world."

-www.saulnierracing.com

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Marcel Fassler , Harold Primat , Serge Saulnier , Philipp Peter