The SIGNATECH-NISSAN team was in Brazil this weekend, for the 5th round of the FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP. The car was always towards the top of the timesheets in free practice, and set the sixth-fastest LMP2 time in qualifying, with a lap of 1.27.769 in an extremely close session with nine cars within one second. However, Franck Mailleux, Olivier Lombard and Jordan Tresson lost their left rear wheel half-way through the race and were forced to retire, while they were lying third in the LMP2 category. Despite showing it had the speed, the nr 23 ORECA 03-NISSAN once again lost out on a podium. The frustration within the team is immense, especially considering the remarkable work which had been taken place until then.
Philippe Sinault : “I am very disappointed ; the nr 23 had got through all the chaos of the first lap. Despite changing tyres very early in the race, we had a serious grip on the podium. Franck made a great start, and Olivier put in a fine double-stint. If everything had gone to plan, we would have finished second. We showed once again in free practice that our ORECA 03 – NISSAN package was very fast. We have not yet managed to clearly identify the reason that we lost the left rear wheelnut, but it might just be human error. Now we will take the races as they come, and hope to finally claim a well-merited LMP2 victory. ”
Franck Mailleux : ” We were so close to a podium ! Qualifying was so close, and we were competitive. Our strategy has proved to be the right one. The car was losing speed with the heat, and between free practice and qualifying the temperature changed. I might not have put in the best lap in qualifying, and the tyre choice was possibly not the best considering the set-up. I made a very good start, found myself up in second, and I handed the car over to Olivier in third position, on the same lap as the top two. ”
Olivier Lombard : “Franck gave me the car in third position. I was able to maintain position after my double stint, being consistent and in the fight, despite a very difficult second stint due to the heat and the tyre wear. Without the wheelnut issue, we could easily have finished on the podium, and I would have been able to celebrate this result with my partner ARTEC, who had made the trip with many supporters.”
Jordan Tresson :”I lost the rear left wheel in the heart of the circuit. I had no more drive, and at the place where it happened, the car didn’t have enough momentum to get back uphill to the pits, so we had to retire. It is terrible for the team, but I remain confident for the rest of the season, as we are really very competitive. “