– We reach the final race of the season, the 24 Hours of Le Mans!
Cosimo qualified in 6th position.
Strategy for Le Mans was to bring a setup that leaned more toward stability than speed. Consistent with our season, we would drive a conservative strategy, setting consistent laps and avoiding risks. Maybe a bit like the “tortoise and hare”, but drivers had instruction to put attention on avoiding penalties and long pit stops for repairs. Roll with that strategy through to the morning and reassess based on how the race progressed and the results we were seeing.
Tobias would start the race from 6th on the grid.
Tobias would serve a leftover penalty on 4th lap, putting us on different pit sequence with rest of competitors. This also gave us some separation on the track and avoiding the instinct to race alongside a rival team.
Teams started to spread out, with top 5 teams (Gaming#225, Naja#217, FTF#203, Exclusive#222, and PTSims#211) setting a fast pace, each running within half minute of each other after the first hour. Trailing behind on same lap, SRP#213, SHQM#220, and SRVN#223.
By the 2nd hour, Exclusive#222 would encounter track limit issues, having to serve multiple S&G penalties. They would drop 3 laps off the LMP2 leaders. SHQM#220 running comfortable in 6th, about half lap off lead.
Late in the 3rd hour, the four leaders were in close proximity… Gaming#225 attempted a pass on LMP3 on outside of first Corvette curve, but the LMP3 lagged during the pass, and both cars went into the wall.
Repairs for Gaming#225 did not take too long, but they would drop a lap off the leaders. After three hours, there were three up front… Naja#217, PTSim#211, and FTF#203.
After completing first 44 laps Without any incidents, Tobias handed SHQM#220 over to Don, rejoining race in 7th position, 1 lap off the leader.
Through out the 4th and 5th hour, the race began to stabilize.
Late in 5th hour, the first CODE80 was called when LMP2 SRP#213 collided with GTE Deuces#274 on approach to Tetra Rouge. Note: SRP wore the #204 numberplate, but was scored as #213 on official xml file.
Early in 6th hour, Don completed his 4 stints, and pitted after lap 84, handing over to Cosimo. Cosimo rejoined the race in 5th position, 1 lap off leader. A short time later, PTsims#211 would suffer disconnect and lose 12 minutes trying to rejoin.
Naja#217 would assume 2nd position, but within a few laps, their race would end. While accelerating out of Mulsanne corner, Naja would collide with a lagging Exclusive#222. Both cars went into the air. Naja ended up on other side of fencing. Both were transported back to garage, and neither would rejoin.
At end of the 6th hour (a quarter of the race complete), there were only 5 LMP2s remaining. FTF#203 were now on their own with a 1 lap lead, while SHQM#220 was running closely with Gaming#225 and SRP#213. SRVN#223 trailed leader by 2 laps, but pace was now stabilizing.
Darkness came in the 7th hour, and at lap 124, Cosimo would then hand car back to Tobias. Tobias would rejoin on continue the battle with Gaming and SRP. This battle continued until late in the 9th hour, when SRP#213 struggled with a disconnect. They would rejoin, but lost 20 minutes.
By this point in the race, FTF had a 2 lap advantage over Gaming and SHQM. Gaming were holding 2nd position, with SHQM less than a minute behind.
An hour later, Gaming would exit the race. Its not clear what happened, but they disconnected from the race and did not rejoin.
SHQM#220 was now in 2nd position.
After 10 hours, the LMP2 order was FTF#203, SHQM#220, SRVN#223, SRP#213. That order would remain the same through rest of the race.
While we suffered a few minor incidents later in the race, but they did not hurt our position.
Don lost control in Porsche curves and had an extended pit stop for repairs. Tobias would have some difficulties with track limits and had multiple S&G penalties to manage. But the preservation strategy again enable the SHQM#220 to secure a podium finish at our biggest race of the season.
Here is the race chart from the Division 3 LMP2 Group at Le Mans.
The podium at Le Mans gave us a boost in the standings. SHQM#220 finishes 3rd in the Season 11 LMP2 Division 3 Championship!
This is the second year in a row our car finished well in Division 3 as 3rd overall plus last year’s win in LMP1 at Le Mans and this year a second place at Le Mans in LMP2!
A quick recap of the season… we had 3 podium finishes (3rd Indy, 3rd Nola, and 2nd Le Mans) and finished every race (zero DNF’s)!
The team will now take a well earned break, while monitoring VEC forum to see what Jimmi is planning next season.