The day started with Qualifying – Yasser Shahin (#23) taking P7 and Jim McGuire (#22) claiming P10 (P9 in class). A spin in the final minutes and a red flag, however, resulted in a loss of lap times for Shahin. As a result, the #23 started from the back of the LMP2 grid in P10 (P9 in class) which bumped the sister #22 ORECA 07 up to P9 (P8 in class).
At 15:00 local-time, the green flag dropped and the action started. Paul Di Resta (#22) took the first stint in an alternative strategy, storming from P9 to P3 in the first five laps – and going on to take the lead after a FCY. When the #22 pitted and handed over to Jim McGuire, Yasser Shahin took over P1 in the #23 ORECA 07, leading the race before a lengthy red flag period to repair the barriers after a crash involving the #60 Formula Racing GT3 car.
When racing resumed, the team used strategic pit stops, slick driver changes and tough defence on track to cross the line P2 (#22) and P3 (#23) – before a post-race penalty relating to an ambiguous pit stop timing regulation was handed to the #22 crew after they’d celebrated on the podium.
A difficult way to end, but we take home P2 for the promoted #23 team and gear up for the final round tomorrow.
QUALI P8 (in class) | RACE P5 | CHAMP P8
Jim McGuire: “It’s terrible to lose the podium after so much hard work. I was super pleased with the result – P2 was mega … Paul drove the lights off towards the front and Phil brought it home. One more shot tomorrow.”
Phil Hanson: "“We had everything this race – safety cars, red flags … the strategy changed throughout. It was quite chaotic in that respect. We managed to come out in second, maximising FCYs and stint times with Jim, Paul and me. Of course, it’s heartbreaking to lose the result. I think we deserved it.”
Paul Di Resta: “Tough day. We fought hard, manging safety cars, FCYs, red flags … a bit of everything. We lead at the start and eventually crossed the line P2 before being hit with a penalty post-race for the timing of our final pit stop. Credit to Jim for the improvement he's made.”
QUALI P9 (in class) | RACE P2 | CHAMP P6
Yasser Shahin: "We felt quite strong in Qualifying but we had an unfortunate ruling that meant we had to start from the back of the LMP2 grid. I thought the car was great and probably the best stint I've done in an LMP2. Our pace was really strong - we were in the lead by a big margin before the red flag all but ruined our strategy. The other drivers did a cracking job and it's great to end up on the podium. It's just a shame how the day ended for the #22 team."
Garnet Patterson: “Interesting race, good to get a podium. We had a different strategy to some of the other teams, but Yasser did a really good job in his first stint. The car was quite strong in my stint – it held pace. I had a little spin with an LMP3 who decided there wasn’t enough room, and I had to bail out … but I didn’t lose too much time, and it didn’t change the outcome of the race. We need to improve the car a bit to hunt down the leading COOL car. Nice to finally get a result in round 3 – but of course, sorry to the #22 guys. We’ll press on for final round.”
Oliver Jarvis: ““By the time I got in the car, we were P7 and we’d taken all of our mandatory long stops so I pushed as hard as I could. I struggled with the car a little bit early on but at the next pit stop we managed to jump to P3. Then it was just a case of trying to hold on because a lot of the guys behind had new tyres. I managed to close in on Phil [Hanson] in the #22, but I knew it was the sister car warming up his tyres ... really tough result for them in the end. As the race settled down, I stayed in P3 and focussed on keeping the gap to behind. There were a couple of close moments with the car behind who then had a moment of their own and put it into the wall. It was really good to bring it home with a podium – of course, we’d like to win it but it’s good points.”
Max Gregory: ““Well done to the #23 car, it’s great to see the team celebrating on the podium in our first championship of the year - a well-deserved result after two weeks of hard work out here. Unfortunately, for the sister #22 car, it was a different story altogether with a hard-fought second place and a double podium for the team being taken away post-race. The regulation in question is unclear and the penalty is overly harsh. I really feel for Jim and the #22 crew and hope we can make amends in race two.”