Sunday 17th April 2016, 19:00
The skies were clear and bright for Manor Endurance Racing’s first ever race, the 6 hours of Silverstone, although temperatures remained on the low side.
Yesterday, in wet conditions, the team qualified its two Oreca 05 chassisin sixth and eighth places of the LMP2 class for today’s WEC race.
Will Stevens took the wheel of Car 44 at the start of the race, with former F1 teammate Roberto Merhi driving Car 45. Both cars made good starts and made progress up the field.
Around the two-hour mark, Car 44 began to develop a powertrain-related issue, and at each stop the car was taken into the garage for diagnosis. Despite several attempts to solve the problem, the team was unable to rectify the issue and the decision was taken to retire the car.
Car 45 remained reliable throughout the race, despite a small incident where contact was made with the SMP racing BR01. Fortunately no major damage was sustained and both cars were able to continue. As the race progressed, the engineers adapted the planned strategy and lap times began to come down.
At the final stop, Roberto rejoined the race in P7 a few seconds behind the Baxi DC Racing Alpine. A determined attack saw him catch and pass the Frenchman leaving him with 20 minutes to the flag.
When the chequered flag fell, Roberto had a clear margin to the cars behind, and the team were able to celebrate their first finish in a WEC event.
John Booth, Team Principal
“It’s very tough on all of the guys on the number 44 side of the garage, everybody has put in so much work and effort to get us to the stage we are now. But I’m very happy with the result for Car 45, everybody did a great job and the times we were setting towards the end of the race were comparable with those set by the guys on the podium. We are racing against experienced teams and we have shown that we can compete against them. We’ve learned a lot from this weekend and we’ll put that to good use in the coming races. From here we move to Spa Francorchamps, another circuit that we know well and I’m confident we’ll make another step forward there.”
Roberto Merhi, Driver Car 45
“This was the first time I really got to push in the car and we are learning so much. I had a good start and made up two or three positions, it was a really fun part of the race. We are in a good position now, at the beginning maybe we suffered from a lack of experience with the car but then we improved on our strategy and at the end we had really good pace.”
Matt Rao, Driver Car 45
“It was a good start, with everything being new to us. P6 behind such experienced team is a good result for us considering the car was only shaken down a few days ago. Personally I’m very pleased with my performance. ”
Richard Bradley, Driver Car 45
“Effectively this was an extended test for us, and I feel we’ve learned a ridiculous amount. Full credit to the team for taking a brand new car and getting it to the end of a six hour endurance race. We knew the first race was going to be tough, but we came through with no problems. I’m feeling very positive about Spa and think we can get a good result there.”