The #69 Ligier JS P320 crew of Matt Bell and Maurice Smith finished second in Round 2 of the Michelin Le Mans Cup at Circuit Paul Ricard, moving to the top of the championship standings. Starting in eighth, Smith made a good start and the team gained time pitting under an early Safety Car, with Bell pressuring the leader towards the end of the race.
In the #37 car, 16-year-old Antoine Doquin took pole for the second time in two races with a stunning lap in the early part of qualifying. An engine issue meant it had to be changed for the race, and the mechanics did a superb job to fix the car in time. The Frenchman led off the line and used the same strategy as the #69, holding a large lead before handing over to Josh Skelton. The British driver extended the gap to the cars behind and was set for victory until a power steering issue caused an oil leak and subsequently an engine fire, prompting an early retirement.
“First of all, commiserations to the other side of the garage, they deserved the win today and the team worked really hard on their car. On our side, Mo drove brilliantly. We took a gamble on strategy that paid off and Mo cleared the traffic excellently. I struggled with the car a bit in the early stages of my stint, although I found the rhythm towards the end and was closing in on the leading car but couldn’t quite make it. We had good pace today and picked up a strong result for the championship, so we’ll move on to the next race with this momentum.”
“It was another great weekend for the #69 car, but I feel so sorry for the #37 crew. My heart goes out to Antoine and Josh, for the second weekend in a row they were the fastest team so for them to retire was a real shame. The mechanics did an amazing job on their car and I’m disappointed for them. For us, I felt good on track today, we pitted early and the strategy paid off. It was a lot of fun to work my way through the pack after the stop
, and Matt did a great job in his stint, just coming up short of the win. Thanks to the team for their brilliant work this weekend.”
“We had a solid race, the pace is very encouraging for the rest of the season. We showed that we could run at the front but we didn’t have the luck today. I was really pleased with my lap in qualifying to take pole again and then the team did an amazing job to change the engine in time for the race. We got a good start and our strategy was perfect. Josh was doing brilliantly in the car and without the mechanical issue we would have taken the win. It’s disappointing but we know we have good pace for the next events.”
“First of all, a big thank you to the team for getting the car ready for the race, it was a big job to change the engine in time and they got it done. It was a mega stint by Antoine and great strategy to keep us at the front for my stint. I focused on maintaining the lead and putting in solid lap times, which I managed to do. The gap was pretty big and we were looking good for the win but we had a power steering issue that ended our race. Despite this I’m really happy with the pace and the whole team, we now have to focus on the next events and picking up a strong result there.”
NICOLAS LAPIERRE, MANAGING DIRECTOR
“I’m really pleased for Mo and Matt, it was a great drive by them both and an important result for the championship. Unfortunately it wasn’t the result we wanted for the #37 crew, but Antoine did an amazing job in qualifying and both drivers performed excellently in the race. We have to thank the team for the amazing job they did to get the car ready in time for the race, they worked really hard to have the car ready. Antoine and Josh produced the perfect weekend and it’s frustrating that they had to retire, but we know they are capable of repeating this performance at the events to come.”
Source. SAS CLX MOTORSPORT