For that last 2019 meeting, Cool Racing would have preferred to end up with a top three/four result, nevertheless, the 8 hours of Bahrain being the longest race of the WEC season so far, was also the longest race of the new Swiss team in world endurance racing. The main objective was therefore to gather information and experience, especially at night, to go to the chequered flag and bring the car back without making any mistakes. These objectives were fulfilled, since Oreca #ANA42 takes the points of 7th LMP2.
As soon as in the first free practice Alex and Antonin could confirm the great help simulator work was in order to get prepared for a race track you don’t know. The adaptation to the track went pretty fast, and #42 ends up 2nd LMP2.
After having had such good Free Practice 1, the team decided in FP2 to concentrate on different set-up test in order to optimize the use of the tires on the long runs, as on this BIC circuit, the car behaves very differently with used or new tires. The car ended the session P6.
The third and last free practice on Friday morning took place on a dry track. Antonin got surprised and lost the car sliding on an astroturf part that was still wet from the morning rain. He ended his course in the barrier. The mechanics did a wonderful job repairing the car, changing the rear wishbone and the rear tire. Thanks to them, Alex was able to go back on track for a few laps.
Nico and Antonin were on duty for qualifying as usual. The Frenchman set a best lap in 1:46.713, while the Swiss did it in 1:47.818. The average time placed our #ANA42 Oreca fifth of the LMP2 field, on the 5th row.
“It was a difficult session for us today. After the very short FP3 (Antonin’s accident) our car was not totally ready for the qualifying and had some problems in the tire exploitation. We are far down and it’s not the qualification we expected, but we have an 8-hour race ahead of us, and we will do our best of course.” said Nico
Nico started the race from 5th row and managed to avoid the accident between LMP1s Ginetta #5 and Rebellion #1. Before the track direction decided to send the Safety Car out, he was 4th in the general classification and 3rd LMP2. At the restart, he worked on keeping his position, but had a hard time to make the tire do their job… He lost several positions before he handed the car to Alex after a simple stint. Alex leaves with new tires and manages his stint. Lap 46 Antonin takes his turn, the car is P8. He keeps that position during his 22-lap stint having a complicated time, keeping the tires up. Nico took over after 68 laps for a double stint and did his best to make it work, but no, they definitely could find the correct set-up to take advantage of the tires. Track is declared WET, but in the end, the race stays dry all along the 8 hours and Alex takes over on Lap 115, no rain for him either. Just before the mid-race fireworks comes the first FCY after the accident of Porsche GTE Am #88 left debris on the track. Antonin – Alex – Antonin so went the following stints. Antonin finally finds the way to use his tires and show very good performances. Just before the last hour of the race started, Nico took over with a better car, and tries to make up for some places. But the car is too far down, so the team decides to keep safe. The Oreca #ANA42 received the chequered flag in 7th position.
Iradj Alexander – Cool Racing Sporting Director: “We started the race with a set-up that surprised us, as we suffered oversteer. This hindered of course our drivers to fight severely. With the temperatures getting lower at night, we managed to get a more stable car and they did some nice lap times with medium tires. But we were already very far down, so our objective was to keep the car on track, go to the end and not make any mistake. In Nico’s last stint we also decided to play safe, this is why we came in for a “splash & dash” (fuel). Of course we are disappointed, but the team worked well and there were no errors.”
Alexandre Coigny: “We were missing the right rhythm at the beginning of the race. We could only really exploit our car in the night conditions. The result is disappointing, but the most important for all of us, is that we did not make mistake. The potential of the car exists and we have again learned a lot. That matters for the future.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “The Bahrain International Circuit is quite different from what we can find on other tracks and we had troubles finding the correct set-up to use the tires in the best possible way this weekend. We also had a puncture which made us lose some time and miss an FCY window. We will need to analyze our weekend in order to benefit from the experience and not have the same in the coming races, even though we will not have the same conditions on the coming racetracks.”
Antonin Borga: “It was a race… really not easy going for us this weekend. We could not find the keys to our car’s set-up. We run on hard tires at the beginning and obviously it was not the right choice. It really is a pity, but we will come back stronger, for sure.”
After a quiet end of the 2019 year, the Cool Racing team will be back on track at the next WEC Lone Star Le Mans / USA in February.
Source. Mapidu Media/Photo. Matthias Schütt