Racing Engineering


Second place for Racing Engineering today in the Red Bull Ring 4-Hours.
It was sunny and, more importantly, dry at the Red Bull Ring, Austria for round three of the 2018 European Le Mans Series with air and track temperatures of 16° and 18° respectively. After a very competitive Qualifying, Paul Petit was starting the race for Racing Engineering, after Norman Nato had qualified the Spanish team’s Oreca 07-Gibson in third place.

Paul lost a place at the start to the fast-starting G-Drive Racing Oreca, but he was soon looking for a way to pass the third placed car and by lap 10 there was a tense battle for second place with Paul, still in fourth, chasing the Orecas of IDEC Sport and G-Drive with the similar car of United Autosports right behind, the four cars were separated by less than four seconds. The five leading cars were already lapping the GTE and LMP3 cars, so all the drivers were having to be careful not to make any mistakes.

By lap 20 Paul was still chasing the IDEC and G-Drive cars but it was then announced that the G-Drive car had jumped the start and would have to serve a drive-through penalty promoting Paul to third. On lap 27, as the race neared the forty-minute mark, Paul took the first pitstop for Racing Engineering, the team just refuelling the Oreca but not changing tyres or driver. Paul resumed the track in sixteenth position but, as the other LMP2 cars made their stops, Paul was soon back to third, 1.7 seconds behind the IDEC car and 10 seconds ahead of the United Autosports Oreca. Paul soon closed the gap on the IDEC car and on lap 35 the Racing Engineering car was just 0.5 seconds behind but, once again, both drivers were lapping slower cars so the gap was opening and closing corner by corner.
News 1
At the one hour point of the race the positions were unchanged, Paul was still third, 1.2 seconds behind the IDEC car and twenty-one seconds ahead of the SMP Racing Dallara which had passed the United Autosports car. On lap 51 the Spanish car made its second pitstop fitting new tyres and Norman took over the driving duties returning to the track in third place, six seconds behind the IDEC car. At ninety minutes Norman had closed the gap to the second placed car to just over two seconds and on lap 65 he was right on the gearbox of his rival and he slipstreamed and then out-braked the IDEC car into Turn 4 to take second place. Lap 70 saw Norman thirty-one seconds behind the leading Duqueine Engineering Oreca and thirteen seconds ahead of the G-Drive Oreca.

The first and third placed cars took advantage of a full course yellow on lap 73 to take pitstops which allowed Norman to close the gap to the leader to twenty seconds but a Safety Car on lap 78 gave the Racing Engineering team an opportunity to make their third pitstop. Just a Norman entered the pits the rain began to fall but the decision was made to fit slicks as the rain wasn’t too heavy and it quickly stopped.

The race had now passed the two hour point and Norman was in fourth place and on lap 81, when the Safety Car returned to the pits, the Frenchman was 5.2 seconds behind the third placed IDEC car and 1.3 seconds ahead of the APR–Rebellion Oreca in fifth. Norman was now the quickest car on the track and he quickly closed the gap to the IDEC car and on lap 89 he was ahead and up to third. He was chasing the second-placed G-Drive Oreca as, once again, he quickly caught his rival when they took a pitstop, taking second on lap 93. At two hours and thirty minutes Norman was three seconds ahead of the G-Drive car and on lap 100 he set the fastest lap of the race so far as he closed the gap to the leader to thirty-two seconds as the rain started to fall again.
News 2
AOn lap 106 Norman took the lead when the first-placed Duqueine Oreca pitted for their fourth stop fitting slicks indicating the rain, which was still falling, hadn’t made the track too slippery. After another four laps Norman pitted for the fourth time and it was now the turn of Olivier Pla and the Racing Engineering car was now fourth when it resumed racing. The Frenchman was almost immediately up to third when a car ahead pitted and he was now 17.6 seconds behind the Duqueine Oreca which was now second.

At three hours Olivier was 11.7 seconds behind the Duqueine car but he was under great pressure from the IDEC Oreca which was just 0.7 seconds behind. In a few laps more the Spanish car was now chasing the G-Drive car which had pitted and come out between Olivier and the Duqueine Oreca and he was just 1.4 seconds behind and closing. With forty-five minutes remaining a full course yellow closed the front runners up and, as the cars went racing again, Olivier was 4.7 seconds behind the leading Duqueine car and 1.8 seconds behind the G-Drive car in second with all three cars needing to make a further pitstop for fuel.

With thirty-five minutes remaining the Duqueine car took its final pitstop promoting Olivier to second but, five minutes later, he stopped fitting new tyres and taking on fuel which dropped him to fifth. He was 11.5 seconds behind the second placed car so, with twenty minutes still to run, anything was still possible. Almost immediately the United Autosports car pitted from second which moved Olivier up to fourth, 2.3 seconds behind the IDEC car in third which then pitted two laps later leaving the Racing Engineering car third 1.1 seconds behind the Duqueine Oreca. With eight minutes to go Olivier drew level with his rival and the two cars made contact, fortunately without any damage to either car, but Olivier had to drop back a little, but he soon caught up again. As the race entered its final minutes Olivier was doing all he could to take second place, but he lost time in a group of backmarkers and had to settle for third only 0.25 seconds from second.

Another positive result from the Racing Engineering team and its drivers and a little more luck with backmarkers could have seen the team take second. The next round of the season will be in one month’s time at Silverstone in England.

In post-race scrutineeing the Duqueine Oreca that had finished in second place was disqualified for fuel irregularities promoting the Racing Engineering car and its drivers to second.
News 3


Alan Queille - Technical Director:
"Even if finishing on the podium is a good result, we had the potential to score more points today. The pace was looking good throughout the race and Paul did a very good job during his first start in LMP2 and we were confident he would do well. He handed the car over to Norman in third and Norman was on it immediately, he set the fastest lap time of the race. Then, during the closing stages of the race, Olivier pushed hard to get by the Duqueine Engineering car, but it didn’t work out. During some parts of the race we didn’t we didn’t take 100% advantage of the full course yellow periods, which cost us a shot at the victory."

Norman Nato:
“We had very tricky conditions today, on some parts of the track we had rain, at others we didn’t, but it was not consistent at all. We had rain for 10 minutes and then nothing again. We were very busy on the radio during my stint, but it was impossible to anticipate what would happen. We had the pace to win the race today. We expected some hard rain and decided to stay out while the track was under full yellow, which cost us a lot of time as we were really unlucky with the safety car. I think we could have won today, but overall it was a really positive weekend. We had the pace for pole and the win. It was important to react after Monza, so we had a positive weekend here in Austria.”

Paul Petit:
“The start was good and I tried to keep my position. During all my stint I was quite confidently following the car in P2 in front of me even though it was difficult to overtake the Michelin cars as they had better traction and we also saved fuel on our car. It’s frustrating to finish 3rd as I think we could have won today, but it’s good to be back fighting at the top after Monza. The team did a good job, also my team mates. We went too aggressive on strategy, but this is easy to say afterwards. I am really looking forward to Silverstone now.”

Olivier Pla:
“I think we probably had the fastest car today. The car was really good and we improved it from Wednesday and Friday’s test and practice session. The team did a really good job and I am really happy with the car’s balance in the race. We expected rain today, but with the Full Course Yellow we lost the victory. It was a gamble that we took today, and it just didn’t work out. Thanks to the team for a car as good as we had it in Paul Ricard.”