After yesterday’s Qualifying, Car #44 was starting from P5 of the LM P2 class, and Roberto Merhi was at the wheel of Car #45 in P8. Roberto made an excellent start to get up to P4 very quickly, and Matt also managed to improve position and by the first fuel stops the cars were running close together in P3 and P4.
Around an hour into the race, #44 received a drive-through penalty for a pitstop infringement dropping the car to P6. #45 had moved up to P2 and the outlook was good for at least one podium finish.
With about an hour to go, the engineers noticed clouds of brake dust coming from Car #45, which was running in P3 at the time, and as Richard Bradley also reported a long brake pedal he was instructed to box immediately. The car was wheeled into the garage where it became apparent that a brake disk had failed and Car #45 took no further part in the race.
At this stage, Antonio Pizzonia was driving Car #44, on his third stint in the car, fighting back through traffic and although he had a close battle for P4 he ultimately had to settle for P5.
Graeme Lowdon, President and Sporting Director
“Finishing 25 seconds away from a podium position after starting P8 and having a drive-through penalty would normally be quite a good result. But it’s very disappointing to see another brake-related problem causing us problems for the third race in a row. This is something we need to get on top of quickly and our engineers will be looking at potential solutions. On the positive side it was good to see both cars recovering from a difficult qualifying session and running strongly with the leaders. We now need to make sure that we can get both cars to the finish. ”
Matt Howson, Driver Car 44
“I have mixed emotions about today. I’m really pleased the car finished, and has finished in a strong position as well. But at the same time it’s really disappointing as we were only around 20 seconds off a podium. We inherited the position a bit with 45 retiring but in endurance racing you have to put yourself in that kind of position, which we did. We worked out a good strategy and Antonio did a great job at the end, running three stints when it was difficult to manage the tyres. Without the penalty and a couple of other little things we could have had a really good position, so overall I’m pleased with the result. It shows that the Manor car is competitive, and it’s continuing to get better.”
Tor Graves, Driver Car 44
“Today was very tough for us. I think we still need to overcome the issues with brakes, we’ve had problems the last two or three races. During my stint I found it very difficult; I was locking fronts and rears and I didn’t know where to go with the brake bias. I think that’s what killed my tyres so we really need to get on top of that before Mexico”
Roberto Merhi, Driver Car 45
“I think we had a really good start to the race, I was very happy to get the car from P8 up to P3 by the end of my stints. It’s not good to have a technical failure but I don’t think it is related to the team and I am happy they are doing a good job.”
Richard Bradley, Driver Car 45
“It was a good race, starting low down we got up to the front where we belong very quickly, showing that qualifying was just a hiccup. After that we were very comfortable in P2 and P3. The brake failure is annoying but it looks like it’s not related to the team so there’s little we can do on that front. The reality is that without that problem we would have finished second or third, and that shows that the work we’ve been doing at Spa and Le Mans is taking us in the right direction and that we can look forward to being competitive for the rest of the season.”