While it’s been a huge effort for all five LMP1 privateer teams to get to La Sarthe for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, the past few weeks since Round 1 of the championship at Spa have been particularly taxing for two of the outfits in the field: CEFC TRSM Racing and DragonSpeed.
Both CEFC TRSM Ginetta G60-LT-P1s are present at the Le Mans Test Day and expected to take part in the eight hours of running on the full Circuit de la Sarthe tomorrow.
CEFC TRSM was forced to miss the opener after the team missed payment deadlines to Ginetta. With the situation behind them, Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson was keen to stress to RACER just how motivated everyone involved is to move things forward and put the CEFC TRSM team’s ill-fated Spa run behind them.
“We’re here to compete, and to show that we are very serious about LMP1,” he said.
Because they could not race in the season opener, Le Mans will serve as the G60-LT-P1’s global race debut. However, Tomlinson is already looking at the bigger picture; he revealed that the Yorkshire-based brand’s LMP1 program has plans for a long-term future.
“This is a five- to 10-year commitment from Ginetta and whilst the commercial issues for TRSM have meant that our testing program has been massively delayed, that shouldn’t be confused with our intention to take this program forward,” he said.
“The ACO deserve a massive vote of thanks for their patience and understanding in the past few weeks, that’s allowed us to be here, and to have the space to put together what sits here today.
“Yes, we’ll run a conservative race plan, but then I suspect most of the LMP1 field will do much the same. Our intention is to carry on working with TRSM Manor, they are our customer, but if we come out of the race in good order there’s a third car immediately available for sale; we’d like to see that out and racing too as soon as possible.”
As it stands, the team, by regulation, is still entered as CEFC TRSM, though the cars are sporting Ginetta branding here, and are without CEFC logos. Driver Charlie Robertson explained that the only change to the team is the addition of Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson to the No. 5’s driver lineup.
“It’s the same crew we had at Paul Ricard for the Prologue, with the Manor guys here, and the same set of Ginetta guys assisting,” he said. “The only addition is Mike, who I’m really pleased is now part of this. I’ve worked with him for the past three years, he’s great, very talented, experienced and makes it a bit of a ‘Dream Team!’”
Since Spa, the team hasn’t completed any circuit testing, however the team did complete a straight-line run with the newer of the two cars. Robertson drove the car during that run, and said it all went to plan with the team able to try out some new parts.
“The cars are now both in the best shape they’ve ever been. It’s great,” he said. “I’m eager to get going now. It’s so good to be here, it’s big for Ginetta to make it to Le Mans. I can’t believe how many people are here before the Testing even begins. I’ve been reminded today of just how big this event is, really.”
Tomorrow, both cars remain in high-downforce specification (one car in lower drag trim than the other, without dive-planes and a revised pair of front-wheel arches) though a full low-downforce kit is in production right now and likely will be tried on the car during race week before a decision is taken on which version will race.
Meanwhile, further down pit lane in the DragonSpeed garage, Elton Julian’s team is still hard at work to ensure that its brand-new BR1 LMP1 is fully ready for tomorrow.
The team’s original chassis was damaged beyond repair at Spa in Pietro Fittipaldi’s head-on hit at Eau Rouge/Raidillon. Julian told RACER the team only received the tub eight days ago from Dallara, and since then has worked long hours to get the new car built up.
The original car, Julian said, was so badly damaged that nothing in front of the fuel cell was salvageable after the impact and subsequent work on the car by the extraction team. Nevertheless, Julian is upbeat, and was keen to praise the hard work put in by his crew to ensure its new car is ready for a run at the Test Day.
It will be a big day tomorrow for the American-flagged effort, which will be using the two sessions to shake down the new BR1 Gibson, and ensure that Le Mans rookie Renger van der Zande’s 10 mandatory laps are completed.