Dunlop 1-2 at Imola
Greaves Motorsport led their fellow Dunlop team Signatech Nissan across the line for a Dunlop LMP2 1-2 in the first Imola 6 Hours rounds of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and Le Mans Series today.
Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 winners Greaves Motorsport continued their run of good form using Dunlop tyres by taking the win by two laps after six fast paced hours under searing hot conditions at the Imola race circuit in northern Italy.
The #41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan, which was driven at this event by Karim Ojjeh, Tom Kimber-Smith and Olivier Lombard, now moves into the lead of the LMP2 teams’ points standings of the Le Mans Series.
The second in class finishing #26 Signatech Nissan Oreca 03-Nissan, driven by Franck Mailleux, Lucas Ordoñez and Soheil Ayari, continues to lead the teams’ points standings of the LMP2 class of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
In the GTE Pro class, Dunlop technical partner team BMW Motorsport looked set to win the GTE Pro class with the #55 BMW M3 driven by Augusto Farfus and Jörg Müller before on track contact and a drive through penalty dropped them to a third in class finish.
Searing ambient and track temperatures of over 50 degrees Celsius greeted Dunlop on race day as a contrast from the thunder storms experienced at the circuit on Friday’s afternoon practice.
“The Imola 6 Hours was an interesting experience for us, as we have not visited this circuit in recent memory, and certainly not with cars like these,” said Jean-Felix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport’s General Manager.
“On top of learning the circuit we also had a wide range of weather conditions to contend with so I am happy with the performance we have shown over the weekend.
“In LMP2 we have once again shown that we are able to hold our heads high as we compete against our competitors, and in the GTE Pro class our technical partner team BMW Motorsport was set for a certain win before on track contact caused a puncture.
“This weekend showed that we are pushing our tyre development for all conditions. We experienced a wet and treacherous track on Friday and very hot circuit on Sunday. These are all conditions which can be experienced on the roads as well as on track, so this has been a productive weekend of development data accumulation.”
Tom Kimber-Smith, driver – #41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan:
“The Dunlop tyres performed very well. In qualifying we did the best we could, which was fifth. At the start of the race we could have gone a bit quicker, but we knew we wanted to double stint and this worked perfectly as the tyres were just as strong at the end of a double stint as they were at the beginning and you could see that by the lap times I was doing.”
Soheil Ayari, driver – #26 Signatech Nissan Oreca 03-Nissan:
“Everything worked well and we ran for two stints every time, but it was possible to run for three with the harder tyre we used. Imola is circuit where you have to use the kerbs all the time so the tyres receive a lot of impact from this but survived very well. In the wet conditions we saw on Friday we have to work on the set-up with the car and I think there is also there is potential for more tyre development too, so maybe we go to England to find some wet weather to test over the winter for this!”
Jörg Müller, driver – #55 BMW Motorsport BMW M3 GT:
“The Dunlop tyre performed really well in the race and the weather really played into our hands as we know that they perform excellently when it is hot. We did a double stint at the beginning which maybe at the end of the race was not the best solution, but the car and the tyres were very consistent over the whole race, and this was shown by us leading until a small accident cost us the race win.”
Charly Lamm, team manager, BMW Motorsport:
“There are two positive facts that we should take back home from Imola: The performance of our two BMW M3 GT cars was excellent. In addition, I want to pay a compliment to Dunlop. We had very strong tyres in what was the first real hot race of the season. The #55 BMW M3 GT was in the lead for long parts of the race. However, we had lost the radio connection and couldn’t communicate with the drivers. Jörg Müller came into the pits at short notice following an incident with a prototype and was unable to give us an advance warning. The team was working on the damaged air conditioning of car number 56. So the fire extinguisher wasn’t in the right place when Jörg came in. This was the reason for the penalty which threw us back to third. The other car battled it out on the front for a long while, before the problem with the air conditioning occurred.”
Ben Michell, Project Manager – GT, Dunlop Motorsport:
“It has been a tough weekend. The weather conditions made it difficult to learn the circuit, so it was good to have the range of cars with the prototypes and the GT class cars. The rear tyres were worked pretty hard, but I think that overall we had a consistent package. Our simulations and predictions for the circuit were good and we didn’t experience any surprises. I think the double stints at the start of the race meant our opposition had to react to us, which shows the strength of the product we brought here.”
Colin Johnson, Colin Johnson, Advanced Engineering, Dunlop Motorsport:
“In LMP1 we were clearly very competitive with the opposition and took the unofficial petrol pole position with Oak Racing, but their race didn’t go to plan. As seen by the LMP2 results we had a good range of tyre options to cover a range of conditions and we certainly saw many types of weather if you include Friday afternoon’s thunder storm. That most of our teams used tyres from the middle of the range so we could cover shorter or longer stints if they wanted. Despite the high temperatures here I think the main trouble today was the drivers getting too hot rather than our tyres overheating.”
Dunlop’s is next out in action in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Silverstone in the United Kingdom on September 11.