Charlie Robertson is delighted with his 24 Hour racing debut, despite failing to win from pole position in the Team LNT Ginetta-Nissan LMP3. Robertson joined Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson, factory driver Mike Simpson, Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou and Nissan racer and Olympian Sir Chris Hoy in the Le Mans Prototype in which he claimed his first endurance racing trophy two weeks ago for the Dunlop 24 Hours at Silverstone.
The team didn’t have it all the easy way, with an accident in the night causing lasting issues and dropping the car 100 laps off the lead eventually. Mike Simpson was at the wheel when the Ginetta collided with a GT4 Aston Martin at Club corner. The collision caused bodywork damage, lodging a fragment in the exhaust later causing a fire. That fire burned out the electrical system causing a fly by wire throttle failure while Robertson was in the car.
The former Ginetta Juniors and BRDC Formula 4 driver ditched the prototype in the gravel, causing a safety car, a ride on a flatbed and four hours of work, but saving the car from a catastrophic impact. The car returned to the track, only to suffer a drive shaft failure with fifteen minutes to go. Team LNT performed a drive shaft replacement in just 5 minutes, allowing the car to return to the track and take the chequered flag, second in class 1.
“Just when you thought you’d seen it all something else happened – it was such an incredible race”, explained Charlie, “The car was amazing and I’m proud of the whole team, everyone did an amazing job and worked so hard. The whole weekend was a massive learning curve, it’s the first 24 hour race I’ve done and hopefully it can help further my career towards my goal of racing at Le Mans.
“The car ran faultlessly to be honest, it was only after the small incident Mike had that we picked up some damage. Racing at night for the first time was a challenge, the conditions then with the rain as well were very tough and vision was hard.
“I couldn’t believe the job the guys in the pits did near the end to replace the driveshaft in about five minutes – I’ve never seen anything like that before, it was incredible! The atmosphere was amazing in the pitlane, everyone was applauding them and it really was great to see.”
Robertson turned in all four fastest laps of the race, beating his own time on three occasions. His two fastest times, at the start and then in the final hour of the race, both were fast enough to break the Silverstone 24 hour lap record.