JRM Racing overcomes the challenges of Spa
Today's round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Spa- Francorchamps circuit saw JRM Racing deliver another strong performance and an impressive result by finishing fourth in the LMP1 Privateers category in the 6-hours of Spa. The achievement was made even more rewarding as the team had to overcome a series of challenges during the build up to the event.
JRM Racing arrived at Spa earlier this week, 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 brakes meant the only time available for the team to dial in the settings was during Friday morning's one-hour practice session. Karun Chandhok drove the 20-minute qualifying stint in the afternoon and was able to put the car a strong eighth on the grid.
With the onset of rain on Saturday morning and, with six-hours of competition ahead of them, the team was comfortable that 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 for Chandhok, he suddenly found himself on the grass on the second. The car then clipped a barrier, with the impact severely damaging the car's bodywork and rear suspension.
Fortunately, Chandhok was able to nurse the car back to the pits, where the team set about repairing the damage before the start of the race. After a supreme effort, the HPD was ready to go in time for the green light, although Chandhok had to start from the pit lane and, in keeping with the regulations, was required to wait a full lap before being allowed to exit onto the track. He then set about the task ahead and, lap-by-lap, scythed his way past slower cars and, after the first hour and his first pit stop, was sixth of the Privateer LMP1 runners.
With the rain slowly retreating and the track drying out, the initial set of wet tyres were swapped for slicks, which saw the lap times improve further. But then, after a further 40-minutes, contact was made with another car as he went to overtake it on the entrance to the 'Bus stop', the incident damaging a front wing. The next scheduled pit stop saw the affected parts replaced and, after a storming stint that lasted two-hours and 45-minutes, Chandhok came into the pits to swap with David Brabham.
Following a Safety Car period due to another competitor going off the road at the same point that Chandhok did earlier - but this time in a big way - Brabham them proceeded to deliver one of his customary solid performances, the car getting quicker as the laps clicked past. And, after nearly two hours and with one-hour and 20-minutes of the race left, he came in to hand over to Peter Dumbreck.
Continuing as his team-mates had left off and, just before the five-hour mark, Dumbreck caught and passed the first of the LMP1 category cars to put JRM fifth of the Privateers. And, even though the power-steering ECU was changed at the final scheduled pit stop with 50-minutes to go, the position was held.
JRM's HPD continued to circulate for the remainder of the race without issue - and Dumbreck even gained another place in the closing stages - to provide the team with it's second strong finish of the season and a final position of fourth in the LMP1 Privateers class.
Karun Chandhok "I think I gave the boys a bit too much work to do today. It's been a tough weekend for everybody in the team and the guys have done a fantastic job to get the car ready in time. I couldn't be a mechanic, that's for sure. Even though there were some issues to resolve earlier in the week, the car was very good today and you can tell there's definitely more to come."
David Braham "Considering the challenges that the team has faced this week, there are a lot of positives that we can take away from Spa with us. Overall, the car ran very well in the race and its clear to see that we can achieve more pace. And, with the way the whole team has performed this week, I have been proud to be part of it."
Peter Dumbreck "I had a really good run and it was great to drive the car at a circuit like Spa. At the beginning of the stint I was eager to get into a good rhythm and start setting consistent times. Other than a quick pit stop, everything went perfectly and considering the set backs the team's had this weekend, we can come away from the event knowing it was a job well done."
Nigel Stepney (Team Manager and Head of Engineering)
"We've had two races and twice we've started from the pit lane, so it would be nice to start one from the grid! It's been a tough week for the team and there's been lot of effort from everyone. This season, every event is a learning exercise and that was certainly the case for this one. We will leave Spa with a lot more data than we had before, which is important, bearing in mind our next race is Le Mans."
James Rumsey (Team Principal) "This really has been a team-building weekend and I'm pleased the car has run so well in the race. The lads have done a mega-job, especially to get the car ready in time after the off on the way to the grid. Of course, it would have been better not to have started from the pit lane and then have to fight our way through the field again. Perhaps it will be third time lucky for Le Mans!"