Unbelievable but true! Everything seemed to be on track for Swiss team Trading Performance to get a good result in the 76th edition of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race when cruel luck hit its Zytek car. Accelerating hard out of a fast bend,...
Unbelievable but true!
Everything seemed to be on track for Swiss team Trading Performance to get a good result in the 76th edition of the Le Mans
24-Hour Race when cruel luck hit its Zytek car. Accelerating hard out of a fast bend, Claude-Yves Gosselin got shunted by another car over which its driver had completely lost control. The shock of the shunt sent the Normandy driver into the safety barrier. Thankfully he emerged unscathed from the cockpit of the car but quickly realised that after just 100 minutes of racing there was no way he could continue.
Yet the Le Mans week had started so well for the Normandy-based team. Two thumbs up in the air would be the best way to describe the way qualifying had gone. Karim Ojjeh said he was well pleased with the way the two qualifying sessions had panned out, with work on setting up the car progressing well. "It all went fine", he said. "We were getting to know Michelin's soft and medium tyres. We could easily have got our lap times down to under 3'43 without using our qualifying tyres, and according to the computer readouts I was well on the way to doing it when I got baulked going through the Ford chicane." The midnight blue Zytek qualified 9th in the LMP2 category, and 29th overall, after improving lap times by 3''5 between Wednesday and Thursday night.
This positive impression was reinforced during the warm up on Saturday morning, as the car moved up three places overall, leading Karim
So as the grid was being set up the team was serene. After the start, Claude-Yves Gosselin executed the cautious instructions handed down by the wise heads in the pits, Lucien Monte / Franck Larue... But in the end he called them up on the radio to ask if he could up the pace, because he was lapping easily at 3'52 instead of the 3'58 initially planned! Proof if ever there was that confidence was running high in car No.41 at that time. 45 minutes into the race, Claude-Yves completed a slow lap. However, the problem was quickly resolved in the pits by a change of electronic control box and the Zytek Trading Performance car was soon on its way again. Still, the curtain was to come down on his hopes less than an hour later. As he was about to complete his 23rd lap, Claude-Yves got shunted by Lola No.12, with German driver Klaus Graf at the wheel, just as he was accelerating out of the fast left curve before the Ford chicane. "I was on a normal line, picking up speed out of the bend, when he ran into my real wheel, propelling me into the barrier on the left hand side of the track. Unluckily for me, there are no tyre piles at that point, only concrete! I soon realised the extent of the damage. When the mechanics arrived they could only confirm my worst fears. We had no choice but to sign the retirement sheet."
Neither Adam Sharpe, who joined Trading Performance especially for this event, nor Karim Ojjeh got a chance to take the wheel in the race. The team was totally dejected. Team Boss Luc Andre said: "We were expecting all sorts of things, but not that. You can understand when this sort of thing happens if someone breaks too late but in the acceleration phase ... well, it's hard to take. It's a terrible shame because everything was going so well up to that point, and Le Mans was our No.1 objective this season. So we are left with two more Le Mans Series races in which to repeat the good results we got in Barcelona and Spa."
The whole team will be hoping to put this bad luck behind them out on the Nurburgring next August 17.