LeSports by Eurasia Motorsport has been on something of a rollercoaster ride even before the start of the 2016 24 Heures du Mans, but the team is in good shape for the start of the 84th edition of the world’s greatest motor race on Saturday (18 June).
The all-Asian team kick-started Le Mans week by going fourth fastest in class during a rain-affected free practice session on Wednesday (16 June), but the team ended the first day of track action in the barriers.
Ninth on the timing screens, but capable of going significantly faster on a clear lap with fresh tyres and on low fuel, LeSports by Eurasia Motorsport was prevented from laying down a truly representative time by traffic, slow zones and red flag stoppages.
Nevertheless, it continued cycling through its drivers to ensure they completed their five compulsory laps in the dark until the dying embers of Wednesday evening, when Pu Jun Jin ran wide onto the marbles and collided with the wall at the bottom of the Forest Esses.
Pu Jun Jin emerged from the wreckage with only bruising to his right foot, but the Chinese gentleman racer would be forced to take some respite from the cockpit and miss Thursday’s qualifying practice sessions.
However, the impact caused significant damage to the #33 ORECA’s front and rear bodywork, flooring, uprights, suspension and driveshaft, although the LeSports by Eurasia crew was pleased to discover that the car’s gearbox and engine had been perfectly preserved.
A calm, yet concerted push to repair and rebuild the ORECA was undertaken overnight and into Thursday afternoon and Gommendy and de Bruijn were simply left to complete installation laps and shake the car down in the first of two 120-minute sessions before getting the programme back on track.
LeSports by Eurasia Motorsport hoped for consistent dry weather to allow it to challenge for the LMP2 class pole position, but the rain returned with a vengeance and thwarted any attempts to shoot for the top.
“The last qualifying practice session was a bit of a let-down because we suffered a little more than most as a result of the crash on Wednesday and the fact we didn’t get a shot at qualifying on pole,” said LeSports by Eurasia Motorsport Team Principal, Mark Goddard. “We’re a lot farther back on the grid than we feel we should be on pace, but the car is in one piece and we will be starting the Le Mans 24 Hours on Saturday, which is going to be fantastic. I think we showed we have the pace in the official test and certainly on the first day, so we’re happy.”