Racing Spirit of Lemans Le Mans Cup endeavours turn into a recovery drive after a great start to their Spa weekend

Saturday, September 23, 2023


The penultimate round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup Series from Spa Francorchamps turned into something of an extraordinary event after countless Safety Car and Full Course Yellow interventions turned the otherwise one hour fifty-minute race into a half hour dash to the flag.

Before that however, drama was never too far away as the #10 Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 of Arnold Robin and Valentin Hasse-Clot controlled the class pace during yesterday’s Free Practice 1 and Bronze Driver Collective test sessions before finishing mid table after the second Free Practice.

Going into todays Qualifying session very optimistic of a good starting position, Robin was one of the first out of pit lane for the GT3 class’s fifteen-minute session only for yet another LMC session to be red flagged on the first lap.

Holding old pit lane whilst a GT3 car was recovered, the #10 was unable to power up again once the session had gone back to green forcing team mechanics to push the car back uphill to its garage for closer attention. Eventually, the car was restarted whoever, it was too late for Robin to post a competitive lap time so the #10 would have to start from the rear of the grid having been granted permission by Race Control to participate.

Compounding the issue was the fact that Pro driver Hasse-Clot also needed to start the race whereas his skills were ideally needed for the end of the race. Like so many sessions before it, the race also came under the immediate need of a Safety Car as several LMP3 cars tangled at the first corner which allowed the #10 car to pit and swap over to the Am driver of Robin without losing ground to the pack. The only question was whether the team had done what was required to complete their mandatory timed stop of driver change, refuel and tyre change?

Back to green but less than two laps later saw further contact between two LMP3 car that allowed other GT3 crews to complete the same switch (if chosen) as many had already started with their Am’s. More racing time lost to another clean up exercise, but things were already not looking great for the Spirit of Leman strategy as by then, minimum driver time for a starting Am had now been passed.

As most of the grid pitted with just over an hour remaining, the #10 car led not just their class by also the race but they still needed to swap back to Hasse-Clot under what would soon be green flag running conditions. Five minutes later and the #10 car pitted, travelling agonisingly slowly along pit lane so that Robin could also fulfil his own minimum driver time before Hasse-Clot climbed aboard.

Back to green but then straight back to another Safety Car with another LMP3 off with barrier damage too saw the race clock count down still further but with the #10 car still at the back of the pack. Back to green and back again to another Safety Car – things were starting to get a little tedious for all watching on as by the fix, just short of twenty minutes remained.

Despite a further FCY for a GT3 having suffered a blow out later, Hasse-Clot had just nine minutes to haul the #10 car up the order which he did as each lap passed the Aston Martin Racing Vantage rose up the timing screen.

Running out of time, the #10 car eventually finished P5 in class after a five second time penalty was applied to at least recover what will become valuable Championship points come the final race of the season from Portimao next month – a fine achievement considering where they found themselves during Qualifying earlier today.
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