24 Heures du Mans

JRM Racing gets closer to Le Mans debut

JRM Racing completed its first laps of the legendary Le Mans track at the pre-event test day last week and today edged even closer towards its debut Le Mans 24 Hours campaign. The team took part in the pre-event pesage, or scrutineering at Place de la Republique in the centre of Le Mans, traditionally the opening event of the race.

JRM Racing will enter one Honda HPD ARX-03a into the LMP1 class this year, with David Brabham, Karun Chandhok and Peter Dumbreck at the wheel.

This will be JRM’s first Le Mans campaign, but David Brabham’s 18th entry into the race. The Australian won the race outright in 2009 with Peugeot and the GT1 class in 2007 and 2008 with Aston Martin Racing.

Peter Dumbreck contests his fifth Le Mans, however Karun Chandhok will make history as the first Indian to ever compete in the race on Sunday.

David Brabham

It’s always great to do scrutineering and kick off Le Mans week. The enthusiasm and the atmosphere make it so much more special as a driver. It really is unique.

One week on from the test, it’s just a case of making sure we have everything in place. The HPD is still quite new and every day we learn more and more about the car and how we interpret the data. Preparation hasn’t stopped and it will continue all the way until the green flag on Saturday.

For me personally, it’s about continuing my fitness routine and making sure I understand all the data that was generated over the course of the test, even after I left to return to Silverstone. Obviously I’ve been talking to Karun and Peter on how they got on and what they learnt and what we need to do next.

Our aim is to do as well as we can this year and the best way is to focus one day at a time. We have some ideas we would like to try and I have a few things I want to run as I’m not fully up to speed yet with the car and performance on this track to be able to give full feedback due to the lack of running at the test. It will come and despite being a big learning curve, it’s hugely exciting as well.

Peter Dumbreck

It’s a massive buzz to be back at Le Mans and seeing how the excitement builds over the course of the week. This is obviously our first Le Mans as a team so everything right now is a learning experience. All the same our aim is to do as professional job as possible, get as much information as we can in each of the sessions and then, ultimately, finish the race. The privateers’ class is very open this year so there’s every chance that if we finish, we will finish very well.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a very variable week weather wise, which adds another challenge for us. Parts of the track have been resurfaced and the grip levels and water drainage on these different surfaces is likely to be one of the main areas to get to grips with, particularly for the tyre wear and knowing how hard you can push on each lap. 

Notwithstanding this extra difficulty, I can’t wait to get started.

Karun Chandhok

Seeing the excitement of the fans today in the main square and the crowds really brought home how big this event is and how much prestige is attached to competing here. It’s one of the classic races and it was fantastic to see how the whole town embraced it and got behind each of the cars and drivers – I don’t think I’ve seen the levels of crowds on some Grands Prix weekends even!

Since the test day I’ve really been trying to focus on the race as much as possible, keep myself fit but also rested – this week is more of a marathon than a sprint! I’ve also been through all the laps I did, worked out how I can gain a bit of time in a couple of corners – David and Peter have been really helpful in this respect as they have a huge amount of experience round here, particularly David.

That’s also what it’s also about – building the relationship with your team-mates and your crew and making sure you are functioning as a whole. Our aim has got to be this – build a good foundation to be able to finish the race.

Nigel Stepney, chief engineer and team manager

Now we’re into race week, the excitement ahead of our first Le Mans 24 Hours is really starting to build. Since the test day last week we’ve made some good progress and are feeling quite comfortable with where we are now. 

We’ve thoroughly studied all the data and understood how we can improve. We’ve progressed on the set-up and gone more aggressive on the new aero package we ran for the first time in the test last week. We started to get closer to this ideal set up towards the end of the afternoon in the test and hopefully we will be picking up where we left off now. 

This week obviously the weather is going to be a major talking point, with both wet and dry running predicted over the week, and even in the race itself. In this case we’ll look at both ends of the set-up spectrum and try to find a compromise somewhere in between. At this point in time we haven’t conducted any running on the intermediate tyre, which we believe has a very small operating window – if we can run this tyre during practice on Wednesday or Thursday, this would complete our understanding. 

Our plan from this point on is to build on the test day and then pick up as much information as possible during the sessions.

Formula One

Photo. BBC

A different finger for the seventh different winner

Exactly five years ago in Montreal, on June 10, 2007, a rookie driver, Lewis Hamilton, grabbed his first pole position and went on to score his first Formula 1 victory. On Sunday he won again for the first time this season to lead the world championship.

When the McLaren team started the season opener from the front row in Melbourne, and Jenson Button won the race with pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton third many expected the Woking team to challenge the Red Bull domination of the previous two seasons.

Since then both Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado have been to the top step of the podium. Surprisingly, it took round seven in Canada for Lewis Hamilton to break his duck for the season by the water at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre Dame.

The now oft-referred “Pirelli Tyre Lottery” again came to play a crucial role in the closing stages of the race. Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel was running in second behind Fernando Alonso when Hamilton came out of the pits after his second stop on lap 50.

The Stevenage racer put in fast and frantic laps when he realized the front two runners will not be stopping for fresh tires, contrary to his team’s radio message earlier. He would pass Vettel on lap 62 of 70 to take second and the German wunderkind would soon make a very late pit stop for super-softs again; rejoining the race in fifth.

Alonso fate was sealed when Hamilton got within a second. His former teammate knew this was no Sergio Perez at Sepang, and was defenseless as Hamilton sailed past on lap 64.

Romain Grosjean raced past the Spaniard on lap 66. Another couple of laps later Perez bid “adios amigo” and demoted the Ferrari star from the podium.

Vettel passed Alonso on the penultimate lap to salvage fourth place and set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour of the circuit.

The top ten was completed by Nico Rosberg in sixth, followed by Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa collected the final point from his tenth place finish.

Jenson Button, dazed and confused, had another non-scoring weekend. It was here last year that he grabbed a dramatic last lap victory from Vettel.

Hamilton, who last won a race in Abu Dhabi last year, was quoted on the BBC website saying, “This for me feels like one of the best races I’ve had for a very long time.”

Standings

Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion now leads with 88 points. Couple of points behind in second place is two time champion Fernando Alonso. Defending back-to-back champion Sebastian Vettel completes the top three with 85 points.

Mark Webber, winner in Monaco, is fourth on 79 points. The Shanghai surprise winner Nico Rosberg is fifth with 67 points.

The Lotus pair are sixth and seventh. Kimi Raikkonen on 55 and Romain Grosjean on 53 points.

Jenson Button, winner of season opener in Australia, is eighth with 45 points followed by Mexican Sergio Perez on 37 points.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, who took his first F1 victory in Spain, completes the top ten.

Red Bull leads the constructors’ standings with 164 points. McLaren, only other team apart from Red Bull, with more than one victory this season is second with 133 points.

Lotus team is third on 108 points, Ferrari fourth; 97 points and Mercedes GP fifth with 69 points.

The Formula 1 circus now moves to the streets of Valencia for the European Grand Prix on June 24.

— Nasir Hameed

   Greetings and Tim Horton regards.