COOL Racing added to its championship tally with both cars on a difficult weekend for both crews. Qualifying was promising, with Antoine Doquin adding a third place to his two pole positions so far this season. Maurice Smith put in another solid performance and took eighth for the #69 Ligier JS P320.
Doquin made a strong start in the #37 car and was sitting third before the pit stop phase, but the unfortunate timing of Safety Cars and Full Course Yellows allowed the team’s rivals to pass. Doquin was also hit by another car, taking damage that affected his and Josh Skelton’s pace throughout the race, finishing eighth.
Smith had an early issue in the #69, dropping down the order but fighting back strongly. Matt Bell took over at the halfway point, though immediately picked up a puncture and had to return to the pits. The Brit fought hard with those around him but was also unlucky with the timing of the Full Course Yellow, crossing the line in 13th.
“This weekend was extremely frustrating but we once again showed our potential. Unfortunately, we had yet more bad luck and deserved a much better result. Fingers crossed, Road to Le Mans will be better. We clearly have the pace to compete, we’ve just not had the breaks we deserve. Thank you to the entire team and hopefully we will come back stronger for the meeting in Le Mans next month.”
“Antoine did a mega job in his stint, he stayed in third place, maintaining the gap. He nailed the restart every time the Safety Car came in. Unfortunately, a car behind made a mistake and ran into Antoine, damaging the car. We pitted from the lead of the race and I managed to pick up a few positions, leaving us third. The damage made vision difficult as there was some bodywork flapping up in front of the windscreen. We had good pace to start off with, but the tyres went off quickly. I kept pushing and we had bad luck with the timing of the Full Course Yellow. It’s a shame to end where we did as I think we deserved to be on the podium today. Thanks to the whole team, the mechanics have done a mega job all weekend and I’m looking forward to Le Mans.”
“Overall it was a frustrating race for us. I made a good start but it we had a issue early on and we dropped a long way back. The team gave us a great strategy, we were just really unfortunate with the timing of the Safety Car, giving others an advantage. It’s a shame but we have to move on to the next round at Le Mans. The Road to Le Mans is a great event with two races, so I’m focusing fully on that now.”
“A tricky and eventful race for us today. Unfortunately, at the start we seemed to have a problem which dropped us to the back. We pitted at what we thought would be the perfect time for the strategy but then shortly after a Safety Car fell, which helped our rivals much more than it helped us. I had a puncture on my out-lap so I had to box again straight away. At some point we picked up some damage and it was a tricky stint after that. Handling the car after the damage was tough and to finish it all off we dropped further thanks to a badly-timed Full Course Yellow. We didn’t get the luck today but we are still in the championship fight. I’m looking forward to going back to Le Mans, we scored two podiums there last year so hopefully we can get our championship challenge back on track.”
NICOLAS LAPIERRE, MANAGING DIRECTOR
“Antoine got hit really badly during his stint by a driver who completely missed his braking. The impact caused a lot of damage to the car, meaning Antoine and Josh both lost a lot of time. Josh did a great job, two laps after their second stop there was another Full Course Yellow, which cost them even more time.
“We tried an alternative strategy with the #69 car when the Safety Car came out the first time, unfortunately Matt had a puncture when he rejoined so he had to stop again, and he was also affected by the late Full Course Yellow.
“We were extremely unlucky today, it’s very disappointing as we had far more potential. Now we are focusing on the Road to Le Mans. We are eager to get there and hopefully we will have the luck to achieve the results our potential deserves.”
The Michelin Le Mans Cup returns with the Road to Le Mans on 18-20 August.
Source. Pole/Photo. Jules Beaumont/AF300