24 Hours of Le Mans

Sébastien Loeb Racing ready for Le Mans

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After a productive Test Day, the Sébastien Loeb Racing team kept on familiarising itself with the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the free practice and the first qualifying session.

Vincent Capillaire, Jan Charouz and René Rast took the wheel of the ORECA 03R, garnering as much experience as possible while getting ready for the team’s first participation. The trio currently  sit 10th in the LM P2’s provisional ranking before the last two qualifying sessions on Thursday.

Local driver Vincent Capillaire started the free practice session, before handing the car over to René Rast, a fellow Le Mans rookie. Capillaire got back behind the wheel again before being replaced by Jan Charouz. While the three men were familiarising themselves, the technical team conducted some ‘practice’ tests by collecting as much information and data as possible.

A red flag interrupted the session because of the Audi No.1’s crash. It was then followed by two other red flags up in the last minutes of the four-hour session.

Unfortunately the No.24 car was hit by a Ferrari. In the seat at the time, Jan Charouz came back to the pits with a punctured tyre and some damage around the rear bumper. It ended the free practice with the team grabbing a 9th quickest time.

The team managed to conduct the repairs before the start of the first qualifying, handing the car over to Charouz.

The Czech driver was approaching the top five early on before Capillaire went onto the track. The session was once again marked by two red flags, one of which sealed the evening unexpectedly.

“The car is easy to drive and safe, which is actually quite positive for a 24-hour race,” said Charouz. “Generally speaking since the new aero kit arrived our top speed has increased. Our pure performance is quite good but could be enhanced even more. We can still improve our setup.”

After the first qualifying, the ORECA 03R No.24 is in 10th position on the provisional starting grid.

“That was a good session for the team overall,” said Dominique Heintz. “We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. We often speak of Le Mans as a two-week event, it is a long time indeed, but this first practice session is important. It stands as a true kick-start and it is very special. We are at the heart of the challenge now! The level in LM P2 is so high that the race will be a tough one.”

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About author
A second year sports journalist at the University of Huddersfield, Tom Errington has spent over a year in the motorsport industry. He spent the 2014 season with SRO on British GT and British F3, even helping out with Blancpain in the Spa 24 Hours, before later becoming a freelancer with the Lotus F1 Team helping with PR and website content.
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