Character-building first half for JRM Racing
At the halfway stage in today’s 6-hours of Spa, round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship, JRM Racing’s Honda Performance Developments ARX-03a is running strongly in 15th place. However, it’s not been an easy three-hours so far…
Intending to use the first two practice sessions on Thursday to set up the car for the unique characteristics of the Belgium track, an issue with the car’s brakes meant the only time the team had to dial in the settings before qualifying was during Friday morning’s one-hour practice session. Karun Chandhok drove the 20-minute stint for qualifying in the afternoon and put the car into a strong P8.
With the onset of rain on Saturday morning and six-hours of competition ahead of them, the team was comfortable that, from eighth on the grid, good progress could be made during the race. However, the relentless rain had made levels of grip even more unpredictable than normal and, whilst the exit of Eau Rouge posed no problems on the first of the formation laps, on the second, Chandhok suddenly found himself on the grass.
After clipping the barrier, he was able to nurse the car back to the pits, where the team repaired the rear suspension. Although ready in time for the green light, Chandhok had to start his race from the pit lane and, in keeping with the regulations, had to wait a full lap before being able to exit onto the track. He then set about the task ahead of him and, lap-by-lap, started to scythe his way past the slower cars ahead of him and, after the first hour, had gone from 38th to 22nd place before the first pit stop.
With the rain slowly retreating and the track drying out, the intermediate tyres were swapped for slicks, which saw the lap times improve. Consequently, Chandhok moved up to 13th. But then, after another 40-minutes, contact was made with another car as he went to overtake on the entrance to the ‘Bus stop’. The impact damaged a front wing and, although not affecting the aerodynamics, the team called him in for repairs.
A five-minute stop saw the affected parts replaced and Chandhok returned to the track in 21st. After a storming stint that lasted two-hours and 45-minutes, he swapped with David Brabham who was running in 15th place at the halfway point.
To be continued…