Portimao: Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM race report

Podium finish for the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM Bruno Senna and Tiago Monteiro finished on the podium ahead of their sister car in the hands of Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre. After its excellent qualifying performance, the Team...

Podium finish for the Team ORECA-Matmut-AIM

Bruno Senna and Tiago Monteiro finished on the podium ahead of their sister car in the hands of Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre.

After its excellent qualifying performance, the Team ORECA-Matmut's aim was to play a leading role in the Algarve 1000kms, and the team fought at the front during the race. At the wheel of no.10, Bruno Senna and Tiago Monteiro finished third giving the ORECA 01 its first podium. In no.11, Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre had the potential to win. They suffered a technical problem that cost them almost 4 laps, and then the two drivers made an incredible comeback and saw the flag in fourth place, 3 laps behind the leader.

The race :

No.10 ORECA 01. Bruno Senna started from third on the grid and was hot on the heels of the leaders. But after 10 minutes he went through a gravel trap to avoid hitting one of the Aston Martins. He fell back to fifth and did an excellent job coping with the traffic to rejoin the leading trio as the sun was setting. The Brazilian was in second place when he handed over to Tiago Monteiro. The Portuguese driver kept up the same pace in the darkness maintaining the same gap to his direct rivals. But he spun avoiding a Ferrari and ended his double stint in third spot. Bruno did another very consistent stint before midnight and consolidated the car's place on the time sheets. Tiago then took over again and went on to finish on the podium..

No.11 ORECA 01. At the green light, Nicolas Lapierre used his pole position to take the lead, which he held from the 007 Aston Martin. The two cars were locked in battle for several laps. After 14 laps, Nicolas was held up by a back marker and the British car passed him on the straight. Fifteen minutes later no.11 in second place pitted with a leaking fuel line. Olivier Panis went back out in twenty-eighth place almost 4 laps behind the leaders. He began a fantastic fight back, which brought him up to fourteenth at the end of the first hour. He kept up this searing pace and ended his triple stint in fifth spot. Nicolas then took over, and put in a number of quick laps to move up another place at the start of the fifth hour: he saw the flag in fourth position just behind his sister car.

QUOTES :

Hugues de Chaunac : "Both ORECA 01s finished with one on the podium, and the other just behind. It's a good result, but after qualifying we were aiming for victory. A fuel line prevented us from fighting for the win and it's a pity. Overall, it's been a positive weekend. The car has moved up a step as has the team in getting the best out of it. That's one satisfaction, the other is Tiago and Bruno on the podium. We're now looking forward to September when we have a couple of important rendezvous!"

Tiago Monteiro (No.10 ORECA 01), 3rd : "It's a great feeling to be on the podium for my first race here in the Algarve. It's all the more special as it's my first drive in the Le Mans Series. ORECA's done a great job and given us a good car. Bruno, the team and I were all competitive throughout the weekend. Traffic was the main problem; you had to be watchful and not too aggressive. Overall, I was on the pace."

Bruno Senna (no.10 ORECA 01), 3rd : "My stints went off well and the car was good and easy to drive. It was difficult coping with the traffic and the track was pretty dirty by the end. We've seen that the ORECA has made a lot of progress. It's important for everybody to continue to go forward. With triple stints, we might have been able to fight for second place, but we're on the podium and that's already a good result. I finished third in Barcelona but the situation wasn't the same. We were more competitive here. It's certainly been our best weekend in the Le Mans Series."

Olivier Panis (no.11 ORECA 01), 4th : "The way the race turned out is frustrating. We had what it took to fight for victory and our car was capable of winning, but we ran into a mechanical problem. When I got in the car I had the bit between my teeth and I fought my way back. That's when you've got to get your head down. We made a great comeback and there are lessons to be learned. We've improved the ORECA 01's performance and there are more updates to come. It'll pay off!"

Nicolas Lapierre (no.11 ORECA 01), 4th : "We had a winning car but we lost the race because of a leaking fuel line. It's tough as we had the right opportunity to put on a good performance. We fought hard to get back and finish just outside the podium. It's infuriating to cover twenty-four hours without a hitch and then run into trouble in a 1000-km race. The positive point is the step up in terms of sheer performance as shown by qualifying and our race pace."

-credit: oreca

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Olivier Panis , Tiago Monteiro , Nicolas Lapierre , Bruno Senna , Hugues de Chaunac