If at first, you do not succeed…. Following a strong fourth position at Paul Ricard, the team left the French circuit feeling a little hard done by. A stirring drive to second position Saturday (14 May, 2022) at the second round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup however certainly boosted everyone concerned, not least the two drivers, Stephen Pattrick and Theo Nouet, who put in flawless performances at the wheel of the #99 Aston Martin Vantage.
The result was all the more impressive given that an errant Prototype entry collided with Stephen early in the race, while the eventual race winner at one point enjoyed a massive two-minute advantage courtesy of the way in which the various safety car periods fell. This margin was reduced to just 11 seconds by the chequered flag following a flurry of fastest laps.
The squad enjoyed a trouble-free Friday, with both Theo and Stephen showing strong pace in the Vantage, the former recording the fastest lap over all three practice sessions. Qualifying was down to Stephen, who impressively upped his own pace to record the third fastest time.
The 110-minute race was a stop-start affair, thanks to three safety car periods and as many full course yellows. Stephen narrowly avoided contact from the rolling start, slotting in behind the #35 of Emanuele Busnelli, who in turn shadowed the race leader.
A faster Prototype made an error of judgement on lap eight in trying to pass Stephen under braking into the Variante Alta chicane. The move was never on and after the inevitable contact, Stephen had lost eight seconds as he resumed in fourth. Pressing on, he regained third before pitting on lap 20 to hand over to Theo.
The racing resumed but out front, the eventual race-winning #44 Honda had somehow managed to gain a two-minute advantage under the three safety car periods.
Theo was however on it from the start, dispatching Kasper Jensen and Fabio Babini to run second 70-seconds behind the leader. There were further full course yellows, but despite this Theo took fastest lap after fastest lap when green, finally taking the chequered flag almost within striking distance of the #44.
The runner up position at Imola moves Bullitt Racing third in the championship battle with 30 points with five rounds remaining. The team now prepare for the Road to Le Mans doubleheader which takes place next month at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe.
Steffan Pattrick, Team Manager
“We’re all happy with how the team performed. Stephen particularly showed a great improvement from the previous round, while Theo was very fast and put in a very mature drive. We weren’t sure if we could continue after the contact at the chicane early in the race, but Stephen took it in his stride and soon regained the relative track time lost. It’s also a shame that we were plagued by the Safety Cars, as that really didn’t work in our favour.
“That’s racing though as we adapted and still came home with a P2, even if our goal was to be at the top step of the podium. Now we look forward to the big one at Le Mans and given the results secured at both Paul Ricard and Imola, we can be confident, whilst respecting that we will have tough competition, of a strong showing”
“The team did a great job and we’re all really happy with the result. The goal now is to be P1 at Le Mans. Stephen made a big step in the car and to be just two seconds off the ultimate pace, for an Am of his experience is amazing. He recorded the fastest lap of all of the Bronze drivers, just amazing.”