RAGUES ENCOURAGED BY STRONG PERFORMANCE AT SPA Frenchman Pierre Ragues finished just off the podium at the third race of this year's Le Mans Series in Spa. Ragues, along with his team mate Matthieu Lahaye, claimed a fine fourth place in the...
RAGUES ENCOURAGED BY STRONG PERFORMANCE AT SPA
Frenchman Pierre Ragues finished just off the podium at the third race of this year's Le Mans Series in Spa. Ragues, along with his team mate Matthieu Lahaye, claimed a fine fourth place in the LMP2 class and demonstrated the improved speed and reliability of their all-new Pescarolo-Judd.
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium -- the second round of this year's World Series is the home of the Belgian Grand Prix and contains some of the most famous corners in motorsport, such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. The track is characterised by several steep elevation changes, which make it a favourite amongst both the drivers and spectators. Free practice did not go entirely to plan for the French Saulnier Racing pairing: they lost time with a gearbox problem, and a succession of red flags meant that their laps were limited. This made it difficult to formulate a correct tyre choice, which would be a key to the race.
Nonetheless, Pierre remained confident as he started the race on Sunday. He quite rightly made a careful start, as the first corner at Spa is notorious for provoking accidental contact during the opening laps.
Having stayed out of trouble at the beginning, Pierre lapped quickly and consistently -- despite the fact that the choice of medium compound tyres was wearing quickly and making the car difficult to drive. This also meant that the team would not be able to double-stint the tyres and spend less time in the pits.
Given that this was the case, the team switched to softer tyres to find a little more performance over the rest of the race -- and the strategy worked well. Pierre and Matthieu just missed out on the podium, but were pleased with their fourth-place finish behind three Porsches.
"On the soft tyres, I really had a lot of fun driving the car on what is a fabulous circuit," said Pierre. "The result is actually not so important; the main thing is that we have shown the performance and reliability of the car -- which will be crucial for our biggest challenge at Le Mans."
The team will now complete some further tests at the end of the month in preparation for the endurance classic, which takes place from June 14-15. As well as working on the set-up for Le Mans, the team will also use the session to get up to speed with a new third driver, who will accompany Pierre and Matthieu on their biggest adventure of the year.