The Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LMP1 car made its competitive race debut at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June with the customer TRSM Racing team. With support from Ginetta factory engineers and technicians, the team celebrated taking the chequered flag in the most gruelling endurance race in the world.
The team fielded both of its cars at Le Mans, the Mecachrome turbo V6-powered Ginettas doing battle with some of the best sportscar teams in the world, as part the 10 car LMP1 grid fighting for overall honours. The category featured eight new privately entered cars levelled against the Factory entered Toyota Hybrids plus a supporting cast of smaller prototypes and GT cars totalling 60 cars.
After issues for its customer saw both a planned test and development programme and the first race of the season at Spa last month shelved, the effort arrived at Le Mans on the back foot. But from the off the cars looked set to surprise many in the 256, 900-strong crowd at the event and millions more watching on TV worldwide.
Trouble for cars ahead at the start saw the #6 car, in the hands of Alex Brundle emerge through the chaos running fifth with the sister #5 car with Ginetta’s Mike Simpson taking the start and making good progress up the order too.
Thereafter it was a matter of keeping on track, and out of the pits as much as possible. Despite both cars suffering a handful of new car niggles, plus some accident damage by the #5 car from contact, the machines were swiftly repaired by the crew.
Racing luck ran out for the #6 Ginetta just before 2am when the car was reported running slowly on track. With the unique 13.6km Le Mans circuit composed mainly of closed public roads the combination of distance and darkness got the better of the car, it stopped on course. Despite following the advice offered by team mechanics who made their way to the car, it could not be started by driver Oliver Rowland, an as-yet un-diagnosed electrical issue is the suspected cause.
The #5 car though carried on strongly, delayed later in the night by a clutch problem, but made it beyond dawn and into Sunday morning with Ginetta’s Charlie Robertson doing the long stints alongside Simpson, joined by young French racer Leo Roussel.
As the hours passed and the clock ticked closer to 3pm on Sunday, the team opted to adopt a conservative strategy with one eye on conserving the car, another on the certainty of scoring major Championship points after four other contenders fell by the wayside, the last of those, driven by 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button dropping behind the Ginetta in the finishing order after suffering terminal engine trouble in the final hour.
Charlie Robertson had the honour of crossing the line to finish the race with well over 100,000 fans from across the world congregated to welcome the finishers home, the Ginetta coming home fifth in class on its debut, securing third place in the Teams Championship with the next race at Ginetta’s ‘home’ race at Silverstone Circuit in the UK. The two Ginettas completed a total of 426 laps of the circuit, over 5,800 kilometres of running.