Having finished third-in-class at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Saulnier Racing's young drivers in the ...
Having finished third-in-class at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Saulnier Racing's young drivers in the #35 LMP2 car, further enhanced their reputation by reaching the second step of the podium at the Nurburgring 1000kms.
The Pescarolo-Judd managed to split the two leading Porsche RS Spyders at the German race and again highlighted the quality, reliability and outright pace of the new-for-2008 LMP2 chassis. The two drivers were disappointed after qualifying, where they were only on the 12th row, an indication of how all the teams have improved since Le Mans and leaving plenty to do in Sunday's race. Yet by the third hour a podium became possible despite a very intense race on the notoriously tight and technical circuit which doesn't hand a moment's rest to either driver or car.
"It was a real challenge on track," said Lahaye. "It was a restless battle with no opportunity to relax. We knew it would be difficult but I don't think we thought it would be quite this hard! We had to be very aggressive, even when lapping the GT cars, although most of them were quite respectful."
Ragues echoed his team-mate's thoughts: "We had the possibility to express ourselves out there because we were in a permanent fight and couldn't afford to lose a single second! Francois Sicard, our team manager, gave us the order not to surrender second place and we managed to follow his instructions!"
Both drivers meanwhile summed up the race in one word; `huge', not only for the them but for the entire team and a reward for the hard work and team spirit throughout the Saulnier Racing squad. "The entire team - drivers, engineers and mechanics, were mistake-free in the way they managed the race, pit stops and strategy," said Sicard. "This result proves that your qualifying lap time is just a small part of endurance racing. The crucial thing is to be able to maintain your performance throughout the race, and that comes from good team work and drivers with the qualities that Pierre and Matthieu possess. They drove an extraordinary race. They were under a huge amount of pressure, but didn't disappoint us. Both of them had already proved their strength and maturity at the Le Mans 24 Hours and here, on this very technical track, they maintained a sprint pace without making any mistakes. They gave each other 100% and know how to use their raw talent, while matching it with reliability. Now we're looking ahead to Silverstone and its podium, because we certainly enjoy standing there! The whole team will go into the final round with the aim of keeping our third position in the overall LMP2 standings. That would be the perfect way to end a superb season."
The superb podium finish saw Saulnier Racing achieve its objective and both LMP1 and LMP2 again finished the race. The #4 car, whose line-up for this race was comprised of just two of its gentleman drivers, Jacques Nicolet and Richard Hein, lost a lot of time in the pits with a gear change problem and finished 11th in class at the chequered flag. That didn't, however, prevent the drivers from enjoying themselves on track, which is, for the moment, the most essential thing for the pair.