Antonin Borga was met with challenging conditions at the start of the 4 Hours of Monza, as the track was still damp from overnight rain. Several cars struggled on the slippery asphalt, but the Swiss racer kept it clean and made up two positions from his fourth-place grid spot at the start. He ran two smooth stints, but was rear-ended by an LMP3 car into the first chicane which spun the car around. He handed the #37 Oreca 07 to his countryman Alex Coigny, who also drove well on the drying track.
After a second run from Borga, the team was able to complete its final driver change under full course yellow conditions. Nicolas Lapierre took the car to the finish with a charge towards the cars ahead, passing two of his rivals in just a few corners to reach fifth. He closed down the cars battling for the podium but narrowly ran out of time to mount an attack, finishing just 0.5 seconds behind the rostrum in fourth after another car was disqualified.
Alex Coigny: “A strong race overall with a good performance from the team, everybody delivered and we were on the pace. It’s unfortunate Antonin had contact as it cost us a place on the podium, missing out by only a few tenths of a second is really frustrating. Nonetheless, we had the speed and overall this has been a positive weekend.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “Fourth place is a great result after a race that was not easy, especially at the beginning. We made the choice to start on intermediates which was maybe not the fastest way, we lost a bit of time playing it safe but we climbed back up the order. We made no mistakes so we’re satisfied with the result and our performance.”
Antonin Borga: “We started well but the contact with the LMP3 car cost us a lot of time. The strategy played out well, great pit stops from the guys and had things gone 100% smoothly we’d have been on the podium. All things considered it was an enjoyable race on a fantastic circuit so hopefully we can end the season on a high in Portimao.”
Patrick Barbier, Team Principal: “It was a thrilling race full of twists and ultimately we just missed the podium by less than a second. It’s frustrating to lose out by such a small margin, especially in a race with a lot of contact which Antonin also had as he was pushed into a spin by an LMP3 car. We started on the intermediates and moved to slicks during the first pit stop, which was a bit earlier than the others as the tyres were on the limit of degradation so we adjusted our strategy accordingly. We made the decision on the way to the grid and it was definitely the safer choice, especially with the melee of the first chicane. All three drivers performed great stints and the pit crew did a fantastic job, and we were treated to a high-action race.”
Le Mans Cup
After scoring COOL Racing’s third pole of the 2020 Michelin Le Mans Cup season, Nicolas Maulini led onboard his #37 Ligier JS P320 in a heavily interrupted opening to the race, surviving the attacks of the field behind him for three safety car restarts. Édouard Cauhaupé put in a stunning pass around the outside of the high-speed Ascari chicane to reclaim the lead after the pit stop, but traffic allowed the chasing car to catch and pass him later in the race. The Frenchman crossed the line in second for the team’s seventh visit to the podium this season.
Maurice Smith had a great start in the #69 car, making up two places from sixth on the grid before Matt Bell emerged from the pits in third. A double podium finish looked secure, however the engine did not restart during his second pit stop, costing valuable time. In order to get the car back on track, the pit crew had to breach one of the pit lane regulations which incurred a stop/go penalty and left them ninth.
Nicolas Maulini, #37 Ligier JS P320: “We started the weekend well going fastest in practice and another pole. We were a bit unlucky with so many safety car periods at the beginning of the race, without this we would have created a bigger margin and Édouard would have had a better stint. It was just unfortunate that every time we created a gap there was another safety car and our rivals benefitted from some traffic and overtook us. We tried to stay in touch with them but they were just a bit quicker than us. So although the title now looks out of reach, we’re still aiming to end the season on a high in Portimao.”
Édouard Cauhaupé, #37 Ligier JS P320: “Second place is a good overall result, but unfortunately the championship looks over for us now as we are 25 points behind and only 26 are still available. We’ve been at the front all weekend with the best time in practice and of course the pole position, but a couple of cars were just a bit quicker in the race so securing second is good.”
Maurice Smith, #69 Ligier JS P320: “It’s been a good weekend, it’s great to be racing at Monza. I had a good start and was able to hand the car off to Matt in a good position which he was able to build on. We were catching the car in second and with less than 10 minutes to go the car wouldn’t start in the pits, it was a mechanical issue we couldn’t overcome. That’s how racing goes, but there’s always next time.”
Matt Bell, #69 Ligier JS P320: “This was a good weekend until about five minutes before the end of the race. We continued our good form from Le Mans, we came together with a good car. Mo did a great job in qualifying, sixth in what is the most competitive bronze qualifying I’ve ever seen. Pole position would have been fourth on the European Le Mans Series grid, so that just shows the level in Le Mans Cup this year is very high. He did a great stint in the race, I was chasing down second and we had some bad luck in the pit stop with the car not starting. From a performance perspective the team did a great job this weekend, the car was very fast but we were just unlucky.”
Patrick Barbier, Team Principal: “A somewhat diluted result as this was not what we expected this weekend. The team did a great job for the performance of both cars and executed great pit stops to bring our guys into podium contention. We should be delighted with second but we believe more was there. We are fighting teams and drivers with a lot of experience, whereas this was Édouard’s first time racing at Monza and he had a lot to learn. Nevertheless, this was a great result. We’re really disappointed for Mo and Matt. They had great speed but of course the engine did not start during the second pit stop so it’s a shame for the crew. Now we are focusing on Portimao and the tiny chance we have to win the title. We need to take maximum points and see where our competitors end up. We’re also going to do everything we can to get Mo and Matt back on the podium.”
Source. RACING SPIRIT OF LÉMAN