SWISS SPIRIT RETAINS SECOND POSITION IN LE MANS SERIES TITLE CHASE Having qualified in 5th position on the starting grid for the third round of the Le Mans Series at the Nurburgring in Germany yesterday, the Swiss Spirit team endured a ...
SWISS SPIRIT RETAINS SECOND POSITION IN LE MANS SERIES TITLE CHASE
Having qualified in 5th position on the starting grid for the third round of the Le Mans Series at the Nurburgring in Germany yesterday, the Swiss Spirit team endured a challenging race to finish 12th overall and 6th in class thanks to a broken steering arm in the middle of the race, costing their Courage-Judd-Michelin car an 11 lap delay while repairs were carried out.
For a team hoping to build on an outstanding second place finish from pole position in the series' previous round in Spa earlier in the year, this was of course a frustrating turn of events. The team does however retain its second place in the title standings, an impressive feat for what is a very young outfit still in its debut season.
Harold Primat, behind the wheel at the time the steering arm broke, had until that point been flying and was running an impressive second overall. When the breakage occurred -- possibly the result of light contact with another car earlier in the race - he somehow managed to get the car back to the pits without drama, allowing the mechanics to get to work. With repairs completed, Primat's team mate, Marcel Fassler, rejoined the race in 20th position overall. Charging drives from both continued for the remainder of the six hour enduro, until eventually they crossed the line in 12th position overall, 6th in the premier, LMP1 class.
"I took the start today and did a good job although it was a bit hairy at the first corner so I decided to stay to the left and not take any risks. I thought, "OK I let them go and I will overtake them back later!" Everything was going according to plan and the tyres were working well. On lap 6, I was stuck behind the Zytek even though I was much faster -- it's so difficult here when you are running in the dirty air from a car in front, you just loose all your downforce. So eventually I tried to overtake the Zytek, but only when I was certain there was no risk. I had already drawn alongside him and in my view won the corner, when for no reason other than to be aggressive, he just turned in on me. Naturally we touched and he spun. Luckily, my car still felt good and I continued my first stint. After the first planned pit stop, my tyres started to degrade a bit and I started loosing some time, but other than this we were able to remain competitive and by the time I handed the car to Harold we were second overall. He was doing a great job but then I was sorry to see the steering arm break as it was almost certainly a result of my contact with the Zytek. It surprised me to be honest, because it was not at all a violent touch, but you cannot get away with these things in endurance racing. I am sorry that we lost a potential second place finish but luckily we have scored some more crucial championship points."
"I took over from Marcel after his first double stint and rejoined the race fourth overall. I noticed that the steering wheel was not straight anymore but I focused on the race and continued to push. Although the car did not feel 100% right, my first stint was fine. Five laps after I rejoined the race after my first planned pit stop, as I was braking at the end of the main straight, I heard a noise and the car went straight on instead of turning. I thought that somebody hit me but I could not see any other car. Something had broken on the steering and I did my best to bring the car back to the pits. The mechanics did a great job and fixed the car. When I took over from Marcel again at the end of the race, the car was really good and very consistent. This weekend confirmed that you must stay out of trouble in these races -- which is not easy with the heavy traffic on what is a very busy circuit! Nevertheless, I am glad that we finished the race and scored more valuable points in the championship."
"The broken steering arm today cost us a second place finish. It is a real shame as we were competitive all weekend. We are not 100% sure though that it broke following Marcel's contact with the Zytek at the beginning of the race and we will investigate this when we are back at the factory. We think that maybe there is another issue. On the up side we didn't have any other reliability issues all weekend which is very encouraging for the two remaining races of the championship and a good testimony to the work we have been doing behind the scenes. Both drivers did a strong job today though, setting competitive lap times throughout the race. Sixth position in class is not the result we deserved and we look forward to setting the record straight at the next race at Donington Park [England] on 27th August."