Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography
ELMS - 29/11/2018
“I really must say a massive ‘thank you’ to Filipe (Albuquerque) for the all season in ELMS. Filipe has coached me on many elements including the specific subject of tyre management, getting me into the right mentality of tyre ‘saving’ and not allowing myself to get frantic if I drop back from the leaders for example, just to hold the gap if possible, and stay calm knowing that our tyres are going to be in better shape than the guys later in the race.
Looking back on the six-race ELMS season as a whole, we’ve had an up and down year, but have ended it on a massive high.
Bruno [Senna] was my co-driver in the #22 Ligier at the opening race at Paul Ricard as Filipe had a prior commitment in the States. Bruno suffered an electronics glitch from the off in qualifying so I started from 17th but early on, suffered a left rear puncture after contact with another car. The contact also damaged the exhaust so we were down on power for the rest of the race.
At Monza we recorded 10th place but in essence it was just one of those races. Filipe got penalised for contact with a LMP3 car which harmed neither car but meant that we served a drive-through penalty. On my side I was happy with my performance, I was leading at one point and until the end where a gamble on strategy and the drive-through meant we lost the progress we had been making up to the last hour.
We finished fourth on the road at the Red Bull Ring but were promoted on to the podium following post-race checks with regards a car that finished ahead of us in the race. This race was tricky as it featured frequent light rain showers, affecting various parts of the track at times.
At Silverstone, we struggled with grip, or lack of to be more precise, all weekend. In the race itself I had a tough start having to avoid an incident, I had to go off track, dropping me to the back. Because the car wasn’t so fast I had to work hard to climb up the order again. The race then ended for us when bizarrely a bit of rubber flew into the cockpit and set the fire extinguisher off, killing the engine automatically. I then couldn’t restart it as a precaution, so luckily it didn’t happen at high speed.
But we bounced back at Spa with a win, a lot due to great strategy from the guys in the pits. Filipe got us on the front row in qualifying, I started in horrendous wet conditions, pitted the #22 after 30mins under Safety Car conditions, with Filipe taking over. We led before the two-hour mark but due to worsening track and visibility conditions caused by the incredibly heavy rain, the race was red-flagged with a little over two hours on the clock with us in the lead. It was fantastic to finally get an LMP2 win after our early season disappointments.
Our qualifying performance also showed that we now had very good dry weather pace. It’s worth noting that we started the season on Dunlop tyres and switched from the Spa race to Michelin. Finishing off the ELMS season with two wins is fantastic. Everyone at United, Onroak and Ligier, have worked incredible hard this season, so it was great that Filipe and I could reward them with two ELMS wins on the bounce. “
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