At a bright and beautiful Paul Ricard on the south coast of France the first round of the Speed Euroseries got underway.
With top line drivers and teams entered in the championship this was going to be a highly fort contest in front of the big teams of the Le Mans Series.
This was going to be a tough weekend for Lars and Team RLR as it was the first time both had competed at Paul Ricard and the first time Lars had driven the teams Ligier Honda sports car.
Lars was teamed up with James Rigby an experienced driver within the Speed Euroseries and with the history Team RLR has within this form of racing a good result was expected.
Throughout the weekend Lars and the team where chasing a good setup and with brake and engine problems hampering practice and qualifying sessions a final grid position of 13th did not reflect the speed and ability the team and drivers had to offer.
In the 90 minute first race James Rigby started and worked his way up to 8th position within his first 45 minute stint. With a good pit stop and driver change it was up to Lars to bring the car home to the finish. With a soft brake pedal and an intermittent engine problem where the engine lost power Lars raced his way up the field to finish in 6th position which was a great result in the end.
Lars says; ‘It has been the biggest learning curve for me this weekend especially with no testing before this race meeting and the problems we have been having with the car, if someone had said to me before the race we would finish in 6th position I would not have believed them! I have to say a big thanks to the team and it was our pure consistency that got this result and this is the secret to endurance racing’.
In race two it was the turn of Lars to start the race and with the team working hard to solve the issues that slowed both James and Lars in the first race expectations were high. Unfortunately the engine problem showed its ugly head again. For the first 4 laps of the race Lars was having trouble holding off the pack of cars behind him and on the long back Mistral straight he was losing 50kph to the other cars. It looked like it would be damage limitation but suddenly the engine regained full power and Lars was able to put in quick and consistent lap times to catch and past cars that had overtaken him earlier in the race. It was some of the best racing to watch as Lars carved his way pasted his competitors to work his way up to 5th place before the pit stop and driver change. Lars was experiencing problems with the brakes in the stint as they were getting rapidly worse and Lars was struggling to slow the car down for the corners. In the pit stop one of Team RLR’s mechanic spotted brake fluid leaking from the left rear brake, this was deemed a major safety issue and the car was retired during the pit stop out of 5th place. It was a disappointing end to a consistent and relatively successful first weekend for Lars and his team.
Lars says; ‘I was up for the fight coming into the second race as in the past I have been very good on the first couple of laps but the engine was down on power again and for the first 4 laps I was being pasted by loads of cars on the straights as if I was just standing still!. If by magic the engine then went to full power and I was able to work my way back up the field which was great fun and I had some good fights with the other cars. I had fading brakes during my stint and they were getting worse so I had to drive around 80% and nurse the car around as we were in 5th place and if we could have just stayed there it would have meant 4th place in the championship. I came in for my pit stop where I would have handed over to my team mate James but a mechanic spotted we were losing a lot of brake fluid from the rear brake and for safety they retired the car which was a great shame. This problem of course explains the lack of brakes I was experiencing in the race. I have to say it was a good weekend for me as I have shown my speed when the car allowed and it has given me more confidences heading into the next round at Spa’.
Now Team RLR have found and understood the problems with the car that hampered Lars and James this weekend they are confident of producing a quick and reliable car in the next round and Lars is aiming for a podium position.
The Speed Euroseries moves onto the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium where again the series will support the Le Mans Series on the 6th and 7th of May.