Racing Engineering

13/05/18 ELMS-MONZA

Racing Engineering finish fifth in the Monza 4-Hours.
It was sunny for the third day at Monza for round two of the 2018 European Le Mans Series with air and track temperatures of 18° and 20° respectively. Norman Nato was starting the race for Racing Engineering, after Olivier Pla had qualified the Spanish team’s Oreca 07-Gibson twelfth despite the car having technical problems in the ten-minute session but post-Qualifying penalties promoted the Spanish team’s car to tenth. Norman made a clean getaway at the rolling start but lost two places into the first corner to finish the opening lap in twelfth. Over the next few laps the Frenchman was involved in a close battle with the G-Drive Oreca until, on lap eight, an accident to the Graff car caused a Safety Car period and the Racing Engineering car pitted along with several other cars and Paul Petit took over the driving resuming in twenty-first place, fifteenth in the LMP2 class.

Racing resumed on lap fifteen with thirty-five minutes of the race gone and Paul quickly passed the six LMP3 cars ahead of him and on lap seventeen he was up to fifteenth and chasing the Algarve Pro Racing Ligier and on lap twenty he was ahead. An accident to one of the G-Drive cars saw Paul up to thirteenth as the Safety Car was deployed for the second time in the race causing the cars that hadn’t pitted earlier now stopping, which promoted Paul to second, but the Racing Engineering took its second pitstop with Paul staying in the car and the young Frenchman resumed in twenty-second place.
News 1
The first hour of the raced passed with the Safety Car still out and it was lap twenty-seven before the green flag was shown, once again Paul quickly passed the LMP3 and LMGTE cars ahead of him and within a lap he was lying fifteenth but second of the cars that had made two pitstops. The Racing Engineering Oreca was now involved in a close battle with the DragonSpeed Oreca with the two cars separated by less than a second. By lap thirty-eight several of the LMP2 cars were now taking their second pitstop and Paul was lying eleventh and he passed the DragonSpeed car when it had an incident with a LMP3 car and he was now leading the “two-stop” cars in eighth position.

As the ninety minute mark passed, Paul was up to seventh which soon became second, thirteen seconds behind the leader and first of the “two-stop” runners but on lap forty-seven he pitted the Racing Engineering car for the third time and Olivier Pla replaced him in the driving seat. Olivier was now ninth but first of, what was now, the “three-stop” cars, and on lap fifty there was another Safety Car period which saw a flurry of pitstops for the “two-stop” cars which was unlucky for the Racing Engineering car as they lost less time with their stop than the Spanish team who had stopped under normal racing conditions. The race reached two hours, the half-way point, with Olivier in seventh, eleven seconds behind the leader and with three cars ahead who had yet to take their third stop as the Safety Car returned to the pits.
News 2
Lap sixty saw another Safety Car period and Olivier took the fourth Racing Engineering pitstop and he was joined by many of the other LMP2 cars. As racing resumed on lap sixty-five Olivier was in seventh spot but now second of the “four-stop” cars and he quickly moved up to sixth as he passed the Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara and then he was fifth when the APR-Rebellion Racing Oreca served a stop-go penalty. Olivier was now one of the fastest cars on the track and he was closing on the fourth-placed Panis Barthez Competition Ligier. He passed the United Autosports Ligier on lap seventy-seven to take third and he was now 1.7 seconds behind the Panis Barthez Competition car in second position but he was being closely followed by the DragonSpeed Oreca and he could not afford to make any mistakes with seventy minutes of the race still to run.

On lap eighty-three Olivier pitted for the fifth time and Norman Nato took over for the race to the flag resuming the track in seventh and, as the race entered its final hour, the Racing Engineering driver lost a place to lie eighth. With forty-five minutes left Norman had closed in on the United Autosports Ligier but both cars were having to lap LMP3 cars so passing was not easy and he had the Duqueine Engineering Oreca less than a second behind him. Then, with just over thirty minutes left, Norman took the sixth and final pitstop for the Racing Engineering car dropping the Spanish team to eleventh but he passed the APR-Rebellion Racing Oreca for tenth and with fifteen minutes left he improved further to eighth. With three minutes left Norman passed both of the United Autosports Ligiers, one on the track and one in the pits, to move up to sixth and he took fifth at the finish line on the final lap.

It was another good run from the Racing Engineering team and its three drivers and if they hadn’t suffered from technical problems in Qualifying and had had a little more luck with the Safety Car deployments they would, almost certainly, have finished on the podium again. There is now a two-month break until the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring on the 20th – 22nd of July.
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Alan Queille - Technical Director: “This was a very difficult race today with a lot of incidents. We were lackingin pace to be able to fight for the top positions, but still managed to score points by finishing in a solid 5th place, even though we higher goals. We saw a lot of work we have ahead of us now for the upcoming two months break to come back stronger at the Red Bull Ring in July and fight for the win again.

Norman Nato: “It was planned to shorten my first stint in case of a Safety Car and we followed this strategy, which was the right one given the amount of Full Course Yellow and Safety Cars today. This didn’t help us push for positions, but P5 is not bad considering we struggled at the beginning of the weekend. We scored points, and this is the best we could do today considering the championship. It’s not a bad result at all given that this was a difficult race in terms of strategy.”

Paul Petit: “While I was driving we had a lot of Safety Car periods, which made it difficult to manage my stint. I always found traffic or suffered from the accidents of others. Apart from that, the race was not very eventful for me and we managed a good result given our starting position. With P5 we are finishing the weekend on a positive note after a difficult start. We are now looking forward to the next round in Austria.”

Olivier Pla: “My stint was anything but easy today. I drove around P5 and P6, was even up in P3, but the numerous Safety Cars didn’t help us gain positions. It was a difficult weekend for us, even though we scored points for the championship. But we obviously want more, especially after our win in the last race. We need to understand what happened this weekend and I think we will come back even stronger at the Red Bull Ring, which is a track which suits us better.”