JRM Racing marked another milestone on the road to their 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours debut as they competed in the pre-race test with drivers Drivers David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok.
Running the sole Honda HPD ARX 03a the team managed eleventh place in the LMP1 category with a time of 3:37.358, which was 11.431 seconds off the pace setting Audi R18 E-tron.
The test wasn’t without it’s problems as Brabham was forced to wait before completing five laps after first a telemetry issue then an oil leak. The 2009 winner managed his fastest time of 3:46.802 on his second lap of the damp morning session.
“I was obviously already running a shortened programme today,” explained Brabham. “We lost a little more time at the start of the morning with an oil leak. I managed to do a few laps, which was good to be able to point the team in the right direction for the race. It's always beneficial to have a baseline to build on and this was what it was about today.”
Further delays were caused by a front suspension issue, losing the team an hour and a half track time before Scotsman Dumbreck stepped in to the driving seat, completing four laps before the end of the session as the team evaluated the new aero package. The fastest time of the day was set during these four laps by the Scot.
Dumbreck gave his thoughts on the session: “We made improvements all the way through the day and the last batch of improvements were pretty good – we lowered the car, softened it a up a bit at the front so now the car is getting a lot of grip. It gives a bit of confidence and you can really push hard into the braking zones, which is where a lot of the time can be found.”
Chandhock and Dumbreck would alternate throughout the afternoon session with the Indian completing seventeen laps and in doing so effectively qualifying for the event as a rookie driver.
An excited Chandok told of his enjoyment of the session today as he got his first taste of Le Mans but admitted that the track is tougher than any other track he has driven.
“The main goal was to get 10 laps in to qualify for the race next week” explained Chandhok. “I'm feeling much more prepared ahead of the big event – the times were pretty good and actually not 100% reflective of the speed of the car as each lap I got stuck in traffic behind slower cars. From now until next week it's going to be back to the UK for some meetings and training and back here refreshed and ready on Monday.”
Dumbreck added “The pace was very good and I think without the traffic we would easily have been higher up the classifications. Of all the privateer teams I think we are really up there and should be fighting for the highest petrol car honours come race week.”
Team manager Nigel Stepney gave a grounded view of the session: “While we know we're not fighting with the likes of Audi and Toyota, we can very realistically be the highest petrol finisher so the focus from now on will be getting the reliability, introducing small performance modifications and getting the team together. It's our first Le Mans ever, so getting the right rhythm and balance within the team is crucial.”