Returning duo Maurice Smith and Matt Bell scored a good haul of points during the Michelin Le Mans Cup opener in Barcelona. Onboard the #69 Ligier JS P320, the pair rose through the order from seventh on the grid to fight for a place on the podium. Bell was running second before his final pit stop when an unfortunately timed Full Course Yellow period allowed others to pass him, bringing the car home fourth.
17-year-old Antoine Doquin claimed pole position for the #37 car on his maiden series outing, leading for the duration of his opening stint before passing over to his fellow rookie team-mate Josh Skelton. Despite a spin during the second half of the race, the prototype racing debutant continued to show impressive speed on his way to 12th at the finish.
“This weekend was very tough. The team overcame a lot of hardships and worked very well, I’m very proud of them. We did well in the race, working our way up to second before we got the bad luck with our pit stop and the Full Course Yellow. That really hurt us, dropping us out of the podium positions. That was a little disappointing but in terms of the team and the pace of the car it was a good weekend.”
“It was almost a brilliant result for COOL Racing. Mo was fantastic today, he had a great start, got up to third and held his own. It all looked pretty good when he boxed and the team did a great job in a busy pit lane under the Safety Car, but then out on track it was challenging. We had a backmarker that held us up, he kept us behind despite warnings. We eventually managed to clear them and were looking good for a P2 finish, but then we were really unlucky to come in for our second stop just before the Full Course Yellow came out, which allowed the cars behind to jump us. Hopefully we’ve got our bad luck out of the way this weekend and can focus on being strong at the coming races.”
“The result is disappointing but we know that the pace is good. I have great people around me and a great teammate in Josh so we know it will work out. I was very pleased to take pole and we had great speed in the first stint. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get a strong result but now we need to empty our heads and prepare for the next race because the season has a long way to go.”
“This weekend me and Antoine both had really good pace. He did fantastically well to qualify on pole and hold the lead until the stop. I had good speed at the start of my stint but then made the mistake, locked the rears and spun. It put us a lap down, the speed after was good in traffic but I’m still disappointed to have let the team down. It’s frustrating now but we showed that the pace is there to have a great season.”
NICOLAS LAPIERRE, MANAGING DIRECTOR
“We qualified very well and our drivers all showed great pace but we’re obviously disappointed with the result of this race. The team did brilliantly during the pit stops, unfortunately we were unlucky after that. Both cars should have ended on the podium today, but neither did, so we’re very frustrated. At the same time we can be very happy with the work done by the team and are confident for the season ahead. We’ll continue to work hard to be at the front at the next round and to take the results we know we are capable of.”