Racing Engineering


A very disappointing finish for Racing Engineering at the Silverstone Four Hours.
In a change to the normal ELMS timetable, Qualifying and the Silverstone Four-Hour race took place on Saturday with Qualifying in the morning and the race in the afternoon. The weather for the ten-minute Qualifying session of the fourth round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series took place under cloudy skies with air and track temperatures of 18° and 19° respectively. Norman Nato was in the driver’s seat for Racing Engineering and his first quick lap was a 1:45.641 and he improved on his next flying lap to 1:45.390 but it was only good enough for eighth fastest as the chequered flag fell. The Spanish team would have liked to be higher on the grid, but they knew that in a four-hour race there would be plenty of opportunities to gain places.

It was sunnier than in the morning as the cars formed up on the grid and the air and track temperatures were now a little warmer at 19° and 20° respectively. A post-qualifying penalty to one of the LMP2 cars promoted the Racing Engineering Oreca-Gibson to seventh on the grid. As the lights went off Paul Petit who was driving the first stint made a great start passing the G-Drive Racing and Duqueine Engineering cars into the first corner and further around the lap he got ahead of the Dragonspeed entry to finish the opening lap in fourth. The young Frenchman was now chasing the High Class Racing Dallara and on lap three the gap was just 1.4 seconds with the Dragonspeed Oreca three seconds behind. By lap eight the LMP2cars were starting to lap the LMGTE and LMP3 cars and the gaps started to close up as Paul was delayed by the traffic and he lost a place to the second G-Drive Racing car falling to fifth.

As the race reached the half-hour mark Paul was still in fifth, six seconds behind the G-Drive Racing Oreca and two seconds ahead of the United Autosports Ligier. On lap nineteen Paul pitted the Racing Engineering car for its first stop of race and a typically efficient job by the Spanish team saw him resume the track in twelfth position. As the other cars took their stops Paul moved up to sixth and he was soon ahead of the United Autosports Ligier and another pitstop by a car ahead of him promoted him to fourth, sixteen seconds behind the G-Drive Oreca and just one second ahead of the AVF by Adrián Vallés Dallara. On lap twenty-seven Paul was briefly delayed in lapping a slower car but it was enough to allow the AVF car to overtake him dropping him to fifth.

At one hour, a quarter of the race and thirty-one laps completed, Paul was still in fifth, two seconds behind the AVF Dallara and three and a half seconds ahead of the United Autosports Ligier. A Full Course Yellow on lap thirty-six saw most of the top ten runners take their second pitstop but the Racing Engineering team opted to stay out moving Paul up to third, one and a half seconds behind the second-placed G-Drive Oreca and as racing resumed he moved ahead to take second place on lap thirty-eight, seven seconds behind the race leader.
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On lap forty-one Paul entered the pits for the second stop of the race for the Spanish team and Matthieu Vaxiviére took over, returning to the track in eighth position, seventeen seconds behind the IDEC Oreca and five seconds ahead of the APR-Rebellion Racing Oreca. Matthieu was quickly flying and on lap forty-eight he had closed the gap to the IDEC car to eleven seconds and he was now eight seconds ahead of the APR entry. On lap fifty Matthieu, on the entry to Maggots corner, passed the G-Drive Oreca for seventh place and he was now one of the fastest cars in the race. By lap fifty-five the APR car was now only one second ahead and three laps later he passed his rival to move up to sixth. As the other LMP2 cars took their third pitstops Matthieu was up to second but he still had to stop.

As the race reached the half-way point with sixty-two laps completed Matthieu was still in second, just over twenty-three seconds behind the leading G-Drive Oreca and thirty seconds ahead of the Panis Barthez Competition Ligier. On the following lap Matthieu pitted for fuel and new tyres returning to the track in seventh, just over three seconds behind the IDEC car and fourteen seconds ahead of the Graff Oreca. Matthieu took sixth place on lap seventy-two and he had now the gap to the IDEC Oreca to less than a second, but they were both lapping slower cars and Matthieu lost several seconds but he quickly closed the gap again despite being forced off track by a LMGTE Porsche. With ninety minutes still to run a penalty to Panis Barthez Ligier moved Matthieu up to fifth and then fourth as he passed the IDEC car. As the other LMP2 cars made their fourth pitstops on lap eighty-one the Racing Engineering car lay in second spot but three laps later Matthieu pitted and handed over to Norman Nato who was now fifth, three and a half seconds behind the IDEC Oreca, who the Spanish team had been battling with for much of the race, and twenty-three seconds ahead of the United Autosports Ligier. Within three laps Norman had closed the gap on the IDEC car which was involved in a tight battle with the third placed AVF by Adrián Vallés Dallara. Two laps later some great driving by Norman, taking advantage of lapped cars, saw the red and yellow Spanish car up to fourth.

Norman was now less than two seconds behind the third-placed AVF Dallara and on lap ninety-two, as the race passed the three hour mark, he passed his rival to move up to third on the exit from Copse corner and his next target was the second-placed Dragonspeed Oreca which was just two seconds ahead. It took the French driver just three laps to catch the Oreca and move up to an excellent second place, but he hadn’t been able to shake-off the IDEC Oreca which was just one second behind and they were lapping slower cars again. The IDEC car pitted on lap one hundred and one giving Norman a chance to push without having to keep looking in his mirrors and he was soon setting a series of fastest laps for the Racing Engineering Dallara. On lap one hundred and seven Norman now had an thirteen second advantage over the IDEC car but four laps later it all went wrong as Norman was entering Vale a mechanical failure saw the car leave the track and hit the barrier.

A very disappointing day for Racing Engineering and its drivers after Paul, Matthieu and Norman drove a great race to move the car up to second place after starting seventh. The team will now be thinking about the next round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series which will take place in five weeks’ time at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
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Team Comments:

Thomas Couyotopoulo - Chief Operating Officer: "A frustrating final result here at Silverstone today, we were looking forward to a comfortable 2nd place finish. Strategy was good, but unfortunately 25min before the end of the race a technical issue forced us to retire. We have done everything we could from our side, the last pit stop was completed, and it was about racing to the finish line. We were in a solid second position, which we thought we would keep until the end. All three drivers did a good job. Paul did a great start gaining several positions and followed the strategy as planned. Matthieu did a good job as well despite being slightly hampered by traffic, he pushed hard to place the car in a top position. Then, when it was Norman's turn to take over the car, it was to finish the race. He had a good pace and it was very unfortunate this technical issue during the last stint kept us from finishing the race today."

Norman Nato: “We struggled in free practice and qualifying to find the right balance. They resurfaced the track and quite a few teams were testing before and it was quite difficult to find a decent balance. Today I am quite happy with what we have done, we were running in P2 before we had a brake failure. Generally, it was positive because it was good to react for the race even if we had a difficult time before. I think there is nothing we could do about today. It's a shame for the championship, but I prefer that we have a race where we can show that we can come back with right pace instead of being in P8 without any pace. That's motorsports and we will try to understand what happened, even though I think there was nothing we could have done about it. We will come back stronger in Spa.”

Paul Petit: “It's a big frustration after a good start with the car being much better than in free practice. My first stint was not bad as I was in 5th and my second stint was good as well and I tried to manage my tyres and to keep the car in a good position for Matthieu. The race was very good, my two team mates did a really good job, so did the entire team. It's difficult to accept the final result because for the championship it's making things harder. G-Drive are strong but, if we had scored the points for second today, our chances for the title would be open. Now it becomes difficult, but we will keep our heads up and we will fight for the win in Spa and to keep in second place. The entire team did a good job, which makes it so difficult to accept how the race ended for us.”

Matthieu Vaxiviére: “My first time with Racing Engineering was great and I had a good weekend. We worked well on the car during free practice where we struggled a bit with the set up and learning the track, as teams tested earlier the week. I had a good pace in the race, Paul had a good start as well and I think we did the right strategy. Norman was really quick towards the end of the race as well. For me this was close to a perfect race and we were just very unlucky with the brake issue at the end. But I am really happy to have worked with Racing Engineering. I hope the team has a good result in the championship and I could help with it.”
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