The third round of the World Endurance Championship in Great Britain was going to be an emotional one for the men and women of Xavier Combet and Jacques Morello TDS Racing team. In fact, with two cars in two different championships WEC and ELMS, it was to be a complicated organization that went perfectly well. Happiness and joy overwhelmed the team on Saturday with G-Drive Racing ELMS 4 Hours of Silverstone Victory, but sadness and disappointment were to submerge the team on Sunday because of a mechanical failure on #28 TDS Racing car at the WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone. The Oreca07 #28 finishes the race 7th LMP2 after having proved efficiency and performance, which in the end are very badly rewarded.
WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone
With lap times between P1 and P3 during the three free practice sessions and a 4th place in qualification, Francois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxivière and Loïc Duval had put themselves in a perfect race rhythm around the 5.8 km, newly resurfaced Silverstone’s 18-turn race track. A mechanical failure (up right) turned the successful weekend into a dramatic 7th place finish. However, the team did not give up; on the contrary, it took advantage of the failure and used the second part of the race to train and test the car for the next coming events.
François was again at the wheel for the start of the race in LMP2 P4. He completed a good 20-lap first stint, surrounded by many pro drivers and handed the car to Matthieu in P6. In his 43-lap double stint, Matthieu set the overall LMP2 best lap time in the race (1:47’381), and took the car to 3rd place on the provisory LMP2 podium. When François went for his second stint, he maintained the very good pace and handed the #28 to Loïc after 82 laps into the race. At mid-race Loïc had placed the car at the top of the LMP2 classification, before he was forced to come back to the box, because of a broken up-right. It took 18 minutes to the mechanics to get over the problem, but all chances of a podium finish had disappeared… The second part of the race was then therefore used as an intense test and training session before the coming events. In this time, François lapped the track in fantastic times. Matthieu took the car to the chequered flag of the WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone.
FP1 – 32 Laps – P1 – 1’46’’122
FP2 – 42 Laps – P3 – 1’45’’818
FP3 – 26 Laps – P1 – 1’44”247
Qualification – P4 – 1’47”048 [Matthieu : 1’45”479 + François 1’48’’618]
Race – P7 – Fastest LMP2 lap in the race 1:47’381 (Matthieu Vaxivière)
François Perrodo FRA Bronze driver: “I started the race and managed nice laps to start with, but after that it became a little more complicated for me. I handed the car to Matthieu in 6th place after some 20 laps. In my second stint, after Matthieu had put the car 3rd, I felt much better and was able to set good lap times probably because I did not have to stress from the start anymore. The car felt wonderful, it was quick and very competitive. More over I was able to stay in front of Pierre Thiriet (Signatech) during my whole stint, and I am proud of this capacity I discovered. It was a very intense and great moment for me. I also was a little lucky with the FCY. When Loïc took over, our car was still P3, and he took it to P1. That was the dream and we really started to believe we could win. Unfortunately, luck was not there anymore and the “technique” decided it was not to be our day.”
Loïc Duval FRA Platinium driver: “Everything had been going perfectly right. From the start of the weekend, the car was very competitive, François knew how to avoid the start’s traps and when Matthieu stepped into the car, he confirmed the performance. We were also lucky with the first FCY and the puncture of Jacky Chang’s car in front of us. Everything was running perfectly for us. When I took over François who was done with his driving time, the end of the race was for Matthieu and I and we had all it takes to make a good result and even think of winning the race, because we were leading the LMP2 category. Unfortunately, luck was over when we had the broken up right and the podium finish hope was gone. We spend 11 laps in the garage, our guys did a wonderful job, and really want to thank them for that. We have the fastest LMP2 lap in the race, the best sector times, the best average times… We will come stronger next time.”
Matthieu Vaxivière FRA Gold driver: “It’s not a happy end, but we have to look at all the very positive things we had this weekend. We had a wonderful car, François’ start was great, even if it was hard for him to keep up with the rhythm on the following laps, his second stint was just great. When I took over after his first stint, I managed to make up it to P3 and he could keep it up during his second stint. With Loïc at the wheel, we took the car to P1 and in theory, it was all good to win… but one never knows what can happen. This time it was a mechanical failure and it is very very disappointing because victory was possible and we have been working towards it for a long time. Therefore, it’s hard to accept, mostly when you lead, I really think we deserved that podium. Everything was there. Let’s keep the good and aim for that win at the next race.”
Source. TDS Racing/Photo. John Patterson