Racing Engineering


A disappointing Qualifying for Racing Engineering at Spa Francorchamps.
The first Free Practice for the Spa Four-Hour race, the fifth round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series took place on Friday morning under rainy skies with an air and track temperatures of 12° and 17° respectively. Racing Engineering used the ninety-minute session to allow their three French drivers, Norman Nato, Paul Petit and Olivier Pla to set up their Oreca 07-Gibson for the legendary Belgian circuit. The Spanish team were one of the first cars on track, which rain had left wet and slippery, with Olivier taking the wheel first and completing a single installation lap before returning to the pits on his return he immediately went fastest with a lap of 2:27.627. After twenty minutes he returned to the pits and it was Paul’s turn in the driving seat and, in very difficult conditions, he was one of the quickest on track pitting after fifty-five minutes to allow Norman to take the remaining thirty-five minutes of the session Like his teammates Norman was soon lapping very quickly on the slippery surface but after ten minutes he had to return to the pits when the session was red-flagged. After a ten minute delay he returned to the track and he was quickly up to speed lapping in 2:22.769 to top the timing sheets, 1.4 seconds faster than the next car, and on his final lap, as the chequered fell he improved again to 2:19.745 to end the session fastest by 0.97 seconds.
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Saturday morning’s Free Practice session was dry with the chance of rain and it was cooler than yesterday with air and track temperatures of just 9° and 13° respectively. Olivier drove for the first twenty minutes; his first flying lap was a 2:05.824 before pitting after ten minutes when the session was red-flagged. The session resumed after a ten-minute delay and Olivier immediately improved to 2:04.741 but, once again, a red flag interrupted the session. The cars returned to the track after a short delay with Paul now at the wheel of the Racing Engineering car, but an extended yellow flag period forced Paul back to the pits. The session resumed with thirty-eight minutes still to go and Paul continued to work on the set-up of the car until, with twenty-five minutes remaining he handed over to Norman but it was now raining again and although the young Frenchman was the quickest car on the track he was lapping some twelve seconds a lap slower than in the dry.

For the afternoon Qualifying it was warmer with air and track temperatures of 14° and 16° respectively and the rain had stopped. Sor this weekend, Norman would be driving in the ten-minute session and the experienced Frenchman’s first flying lap was a 2:01.811 to go second fastest and he then lowered his time to 2:01.761 on his next lap before briefly pitting. He did not improve his time on his final lap leaving him in sixth position.

With the top six cars separated by just over one second it should be a very close race tomorrow and the Spanish team and its three drivers will be targeting the podium again.
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Team Comments:

Alan Queille - Technical Director: "This was a disappointing qualifying session for us. We were hampered by the fact that we were not able to work through our run plan in Free Practice 2 as we had wanted. Norman was on a flying lap, improving his lap time, on his second set of tyres, but a yellow flag put all our chances of finishing better than 6th to an end. This is particularly disappointing as we had a quite strong pace during the test sessions. But our focus is on tomorrow’s race now as overtaking is possible here at Spa and the weather predicted could give us the chance to quickly fight our way to the top"

Norman Nato: “;With the changing weather conditions I was not able to drive the car in dry conditions before today’s qualifying. I didn’t get the opportunity to get ready for qualifying, this sure cost us a bit of time, and we were additionally unlucky on my second set of tyres as I had to abort the lap due to a yellow flag and finished the lap in the pits.”
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