Nissan GT Academy Winners Jann Mardenborough and Mark Shulzhitskiy enjoyed fruitful qualifying sessions at Le Mans on Wednesday and Thursday, with the #35 OAK Racing Ligier JS P2 qualifying in third place for the 82nd Edition of the Grand Prix d’Endurance.
The duo, who are joined by Alex Brundle for the race, set respectable lap times throughout, with Shulzhitskiy in particularly catching people’s attention during the sessions. “For me today the object was to keep learning the track, learning how to drive here at night,” he said. “I am still learning all the time, working on my technique but I think I am ready for the race now. It will be a great experience for me I’m sure.”
It was also another good day for Mardenborough yesterday, with the Welshman setting the fastest time in the evening, although not good enough for pole in the end. “The session went really well today,” said Mardenborough. “That was my first time on new tyres and low fuel in this car. I got a clear lap until the last sector; it should have been pole but I’m happy with third.
“We finished third last year after qualifying a long way down the field so to start from near the front puts us in a much better position for the first three hours of the race especially if there are any safety cars. Today was a box ticked for us and now we focus on the race. We are here to win.”
For Brundle, however, things were more frustrating, with a late Slow Zone for an off involving Karun Chandhok scuppering his shot for pole in the dyeing minutes of the session. “I won’t deny that I’m feeling frustrated tonight,” he said. “The car had the pace for pole and my first two sectors at the end suggested we would have been there or there abouts with a clean run. I’ve been involved with the new Ligier JS P2’s development work and would have loved to put it on pole first time out, especially as it’s Le Mans.
“But we’ve got to focus on the bigger picture, and that looks very promising indeed. We were only three tenths from pole, know there’s more time in the car and will start at the sharp end of the class on Saturday. The Ligier is undoubtedly very fast here and with Jann, Mark and myself we have a driver crew that can make an impression. Of course, we’re not getting ahead of ourselves – we’ve seen over the last couple of days what can happen if you make even a small mistake here – but I really can’t wait for Saturday now.”