Sometimes we all need a little luck, especially when things are not going as expected. Saturday at Monza for the fifth round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup was that day when really, we did not put our best foot forward and were somewhat fortunate to finish on the podium.
Given our track record, a non-perfect day is permitted, and we leave Monza somewhat relieved with our third position finish, a result that moves us second in the championship race with 60 points, 17 adrift of our title rival at GMB Motorsport with two rounds remaining.
The event started with testing on Thursday, which was a good opportunity for Stephen Pattrick and Valentin Hasse-Clot to get acclimatised to both the heat of Monza and the circuit itself. Having set the pace in the first test session and then had little running in the second courtesy of red flags, the event proper kicked off with Friday’s official running ahead of Saturday’s qualifying run.
Unfortunately, the push session did not go quite to plan, with Stephen a little off his very best from practice, but fourth position was a decent place to start and the Spanish-based squad were still confident heading into the 110-minute race.
It was a great start to the race too with Stephen and our friends in the #55 Honda vaulting one-two on track and pulling out from those behind. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as Stephen spun on lap eight at Variante della Roggia, damaging the diffuser on the #99 Aston Martin Vantage in the process. He was able to continue, regaining fourth position before spinning into the gravel at Lesmo.
Following a metaphorical CTRL-ALT-DELETE, he was soon back underway, but almost a lap down on the field. Valentin jumped aboard the Aston for his stint with little to lose and was – as expected – blisteringly fast, recording the fastest lap of the race on lap 30.
With others finding trouble on track and off, Valentin took the chequered flag in fourth position, but just as we were all wondering where it had unravelled, the podium beckoned with a penalty for a rival. It may have been lucky, but we were there to take the position and with it, the 15 points.
There’s now a long break in the calendar now until late September when the team return to the Le Mans Cup at Spa-Francorchamps seeking that elusive first victory.
“Stephen did an amazing start to the race and then it got eventful! Obviously, I had to jump into the car one lap down and [Team Manager] Steffan did an amazing job on the radio to motivate and push me, so I gave it all and then we crossed the line – with a bit of luck in – in P3. You do need luck sometimes and now we are P2 in the Championship with two races to go and we will give it our all to the very end.”
“The first 20 minutes were good, from fourth to second in the race and then we had a full course yellow. I got pushed out by an LMP3 and frankly, I just didn’t manage the car and the situation as well as I should have done. I then had a spin, recovered, pulled back and retook fourth position and then spun again, this time into the gravel which threw us out by a lap. I got back into the car and there were a number of incidents in this race and we managed to get third place which we are very very happy about. We move on and look forward to Spa.”
Steffan Pattrick, Team Manager
“That was surprising. We came into this looking quick after a good test period and unfortunately, Stephen had an issue in the race – took out the diffuser – which compromised him. He then lost the car for a second time, and we recovered, came back to the pits a lap down. Valentin got into the car knowing full well that he would have to push to the end, and this paid off with him pounding around and then some instructions from race control worked in our favour. A third pace finish is not what we wanted, but we’ll take it as it moved us P2 in the standings.”