TOP FIVE FINISH FOR WEBB AT LONE STAR LE MANS
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Top five finish for Webb at Lone Star Le Mans
Series: World Endurance Championship
Track: Circuit of the Americas, Texas
Track length: 5.470km (3.400 miles)
Date: 19 September 2015
Qualifying: Pos. 4; Time: 1m58.109s; +0.961s
Race: Pos. 5
The World Endurance Championship travelled to the Lone Star State, Texas, for round 5 at the Circuit of the Americas, with British racing driver Oliver Webb looking to build on a strong showing at the last race. The BRDC star, alongside teammates Pierre Ragues and Archie Hamilton, claimed a second consecutive top five finish for Team SARD Morand.
Returning to the North American racing scene after a successful rookie season competing in Indy Lights, Webb was making his debut at the circuit, but was quickly up to speed despite his lack of experience. The team worked hard throughout the Free Practice sessions on set up as the driver trio got to grips with the circuit, and improvements were clear to see as the #43 Morgan EVO SARD ended the final session in the top three.
The young Brit showed his skills at the wheel during qualifying to go second quickest around the 5.470km circuit in the highly competitive LMP2 class. Following this, Webb’s teammate Ragues was unfortunate during his flying lap, which saw him spin. However, the aggregate laptime was still strong enough to secure a second row grid slot for the start of the six hour endurance race.
Despite a late afternoon start to the race, conditions were still hot and a real challenge for the drivers. Webb was first in the car and, unlike many of the competition, ran a double stint. His strong start, and extended running in the car, moved the team up to a podium position before the heat caused a loss of power. While only a temporary problem, this resulted in an unscheduled pitstop, but the team acted quickly to return the car to the track with Ragues and Hamilton maintaining a top four position.
A change in strategy by the team saw shorter stints run in the middle of the race, while Webb then returned to the cockpit for another double stint in a sprint to the flag. The Knutsford-born racer worked hard to manage tyres and fuel in the closing stages, as the lack of power continued to hamper progress. With one lap remaining, Webb was holding station in P4, but the chasing pack was running on fresher rubber, and he was unable to defend the position in the dying stages, having to yield the position on the final corner of the final lap. Webb brought the battle-scarred prototype home just 0.05 seconds behind to claim P5. Team SARD Morand lie P6 in the championship with three rounds remaining.
Commenting on the weekend, Webb explained: ‘A tough weekend, which was mentally and physically challenging. Having to hit the ground running and learning a circuit adds to the challenges, but it is a fantastic place, and we showed strong pace throughout the various sessions. The team did a great job with the set up of the car, making it easy for me, Pierre and Archie to simply focus on the job in hand. It was a cruel end to lose P4 on the last corner, but it is another strong points-scoring result, and we are proving to be consistent. We head on to Japan for the next round in a couple of weeks – the 6 Hours of Fuji – and we will look to build on the positives from this weekend and come back stronger, and pushing to be back on the podium.’
Round 6 of the World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Fuji takes place 9-11 October.