The #11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER was unfortunate to retire from its maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans within the final hour, with Jenson Button forced to pull the car from the track at Indianapolis with an engine failure.
The car was on course for a top five finish in LMP1 despite losing forty-five laps in the opening few hours with a sensor issue, which left Button, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin on the back foot with nothing much but learning to achieve.
“It was a shame we had the issues we had the issues that cost us 45 laps, and then it’s a hard fight from there because you’ve another 21 hours of pushing, knowing you won’t achieve anything apart from finishing,” Button is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
“Vitaly, Mikhail and myself did a good job of pushing the car hard but not too hard, and we had the failure in the end with the engine, which is a shame.
“But I think there’s a lot learnt from this race for everyone.”
Unfortunately, Button’s retirement meant that both SMP’s were unable to see the chequered flag, with the sister #17 of Matevos Isaakyan, Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev having fallen by the wayside in the first few hours of darkness on Saturday night, but for Button, there were positives to take from the event, particularly as the cars were able to battle with the two Rebellion Racing cars that ultimately finished third and fourth when they were running.
“The whole team did a fantastic job to come here as do as well as they did,” said Button. ”I think we really could have taken the fight to Rebellion in terms of pace, and strategy, and for our first experience here at Le Mans I don’t think that’s too bad at all.
“We just have to learn from our mistakes.”