In its second participation in the 12 Hours of Sebring, and after starting from the second line of the LMP2 cars this morning, the SIGNATECH-NISSAN team was forced to retire after two hours and fifty minutes of racing, caught out by oil on the track. At the time, the driving crew of Mailleux, Tresson and Lombard and their nr 23 ORECA 03 – NISSAN were lying in second position in the LMP2 category (1st in the WEC LMP2).
Since the start of the week, for Philippe Sinault’s men, the strategy was to prepare the endurance set-up of the car, as Sebring is the second-longest race of the season, after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The plan was to work on the performance during Friday’s qualifying session. Franck Mailleux placed the car in fourth position in the LMP2 category, despite the session being shortened by a red flag.
In the race, it was Franck Mailleux who took the start, handing the car over to Olivier Lombard on the 48th lap after a double stint, when the car was 3rd in LMP2 (2nd LMP2 in the WEC). A few laps later, the nr 23 ORECA 03 NISSAN #23 moved up to second in LMP2 (1st LMP2 WEC). But on lap 85, Olivier Lombard lost control of his vehicle on some oil, going off the track without any damage. The car would have been able to rejoin, but a Ferrari, having lost control for the same reason, hit the SIGNATECH NISSAN. This resulted in the left side bodywork being torn off, and with the shell being damaged, the car retired.
Philippe Sinault : “CAUGHT OUT BY THE TRACK”
“We are obviously disappointed. We were ideally placed after two hours of racing, and the car was on the pace. Olivier was the first to arrive at a patch of oil, and he lost the car. Until then, we could have rejoined, but the nr 49 Ferrari hit us, and the extremely violent collision damaged the shell which forced us to retire. We will double our efforts between now and Spa to be able to fight with our rivals, no matter how tough the competition is. The LMP2 field is of a very high quality, especially with Oak and HPD, even if the hierarchy has not yet been clearly established. On our side, we received the 2012 evolutions for our car relatively late, and we have to refine the set-up. Apart from that, I am very satisfied with the performance of my drivers and my team, especially Jordan who managed his first event in a prototype very well, especially considering the number of cars on track.”
Franck Mailleux : ” WE WERE GOING VERY WELL ”
” It’s a shame as we were going really well. Over one lap, the Oak and HPD cars are faster than us, but we are up with them in the race over the double stints and thanks to the good balance of our crew. With our strategy, we have what we need to fight for victory..”
Olivier Lombard : ” A TRAP …”
“Generally, everything was going quite well and our programme should have paid off at the end of twelve hours of racing, due to the double stints. But I was the first to reach the patch of oil, and clearly I was unable to do anything. The car just went. We could have rejoined, and I really thought I could, I didn’t get out of the car and I was trying to get going, but after the impact from the Ferrari, and when I saw the amount of damage, I was a lot less confident. That’s racing, and especially the consequences of too much traffic for this circuit. We now have to forget about Sebring and concentrate on Spa.”
Jordan Tresson : “THE AMERICAN DREAM”
“At long last, I was going to be able to drive the nr 23 ORECA 03 NISSAN for real ! But a race incident changed all that and spoiled the party. I was not doing too badly, and was able to work with the team for the whole week. Even if the race is over for us, we are already thinking of the next race, studying our rivals’ strategy until the end.”
Next stop, May 5th & 6th on the circuit of Spa Francorchamps for the 2nd round of the FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP.