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Cool Racing ready to challenge in debut 24 Hours of Le Mans

Cool Racing ready to challenge in debut 24 Hours of Le Mans

15.09.2020: COOL Racing heads to Circuit de la Sarthe for its first 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, as well as the penultimate round of a successful maiden World Endurance Championship campaign for the Swiss team, which has included a debut win at the 4 Hours of Si

COOL Racing heads to Circuit de la Sarthe for its first 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, as well as the penultimate round of a successful maiden World Endurance Championship campaign for the Swiss team, which has included a debut win at the 4 Hours of Silverstone and a second-place finish at the 6 Hours of Spa driving the Oreca 07-Gibson.
 


Established in 2017, COOL Racing has enjoyed a rapid rise to the upper echelons of prototype racing, with Le Mans debutants Alex Coigny and Antonin Borga now lining up alongside the most successful LMP2 driver around the famous 13.626km venue, four-time class winner Nicolas Lapierre.
 


Coigny and Borga began racing with the team in the LMP3 class of Michelin Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans Series in 2017, before making the step up to LMP2 last season having recruited Lapierre, who earlier this year became a shareholder in Spirit of Léman, the company running the team. Consistently one of the best-performing bronze drivers in LMP2, having stood on the WEC and ELMS podiums, Coigny will fulfil his Le Mans dream this weekend.
 


The team has continued to race in ELMS this year alongside its WEC campaign, with the recent night race at the Le Castellet 240 being a key part of its preparation for the 24 Hours. In addition to two WEC podiums this season, COOL Racing was also on pole for the 4 Hours of Shanghai and Lone Star Le Mans, sitting fifth in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams.
 


As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the 88th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was moved from its traditional June slot to September for just the second time in its storied history, which will likely result in unusual conditions. The longer night and cooler temperatures should result in faster lap times, while the increased risk of rain could create additional strategic challenges.
 


COOL Racing will also have to adapt to the condensed schedule on its maiden appearance at the legendary race, with four free practice sessions and qualifying all set to take place across the Thursday and Friday. This differs significantly from previous editions of the enduro, where teams were given the Friday off to prepare. The traditional pre-event Test Day has been cancelled, meaning the drivers will have less time track time in the build-up to the race than they would have in previous years.
 




Alongside its LMP2 entry, COOL Racing’s two Ligier JS P320 cars will compete in the supporting Road to Le Mans races, which act as the fourth meeting in the Michelin Le Mans Cup campaign. The #69 of Maurice Smith and Matt Bell and the #37 of Nicolas Maulini and Édouard Cauhaupé are the two most recent winners in the series and aim to continue that momentum.



Alexandre Coigny, #42 Oreca 07
: “Being here is a dream come true and the team is reaping the rewards of four seasons of hard work. This is definitely the race of my life and I really hope that Antonin and I hit our marks as quickly as possible. We have Nico onboard which is a huge help in our preparations, and although we started getting ready a long time ago, it’s now about finalising the details.



I’m confident that we have done everything necessary to prepare for this event. Le Mans is just magical and is the dream of any racing driver. Even if this year will not be exactly how we imagined, it remains the 24 Hours of Le Mans and once the Tricolore drops on Saturday at 14:30, the lack of fans will not make any difference.”
 


Antonin Borga, #42 Oreca 07:
“We are very lucky to be able to enter this race, an event that is known all around the world and it’s with the greatest respect and anticipation that I prepared to get out on track at Le Mans. Throughout the 24 hours there will be plenty of incidents, but the pace is incredibly fast, and in many ways, it’s just like consecutive sprint races. We are lucky to be surrounded by a great, well-prepared team and we’ll do the best we can. It’s a delight to be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I cannot wait to see the Tricolore being waved on Saturday.”
 


Nicolas Lapierre, #42 Oreca 07:
“I’m delighted to return to Le Mans at last, and we are so happy that the race is taking place. We’re aware that conditions will be a bit peculiar, but nonetheless it’s a relief that the race will go ahead. This edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be complicated for the team on its debut as there was no official test day and the programme is extremely condensed. This will make things more difficult, but our objective is to learn from the experience, finish the race, enjoy the event and do the best we can.”






Maurice Smith, #69 Ligier JS P320: “
I have been looking forward to the Road to Le Mans races since we crossed the line last year. Of course, it will be different this time around without the fans and with the COVID-19 protocols, but the track remains the same. I cannot wait to get out there.”
 



Matt Bell, #69 Ligier JS P320: “
It’s always exciting to head back to the Circuit de la Sarthe as it’s the main event in Michelin Le Mans Cup every year. I’m obviously looking forward to doing it for the first time with COOL Racing after a competitive year so far, coming off the back of a win. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”
 


Nicolas Maulini, #37 Ligier JS P320:
“It’s always a privilege to drive at Le Mans and I am really excited for the race. This year will be a bit different without the funfair atmosphere, but it will still be an amazing experience to drive on this track. We hope to fight for the win, but luck will play a part here more than at any other circuit, with the slow zones and other regulations not necessarily designed for one-hour races. But our form has been fantastic this season, so we will try our best to be at the front, enjoy the event and climb on this great podium.”
 


Édouard Cauhaupé, #37 Ligier JS P320:
“I can’t wait to drive at the beautiful and iconic Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time. Most of the other silver drivers have raced here before so my preparation will be crucial, although it will be difficult during free practice due to the potential for red flags and slow zones. Therefore, I’ll need to get on the pace as quickly possible and make as few mistakes as I can. Hopefully we can reduce the gap to the top of the championship with a great result.”
 



Patrick Barbier, Team Principal:
“This is our first entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans and we’re delighted to be here, but the circumstances around the race have complicated matters. Firstly, we didn’t get the opportunity to take part in the traditional Test Day, which is a shame for Alex, Antonin and the team as they’ve never done the race before. Secondly, the condensed schedule means we’re placing a really intense workload on our staff, who will essentially have to work for four days straight.


Normally, teams have a week after the test to recover and prepare before the race, but this year we will need to get the car ready between Friday afternoon, if we qualify for the Hyperpole, and Saturday morning for the warm-up. Ahead of the race we need to do as many miles as possible so the drivers can adjust to the track and collect data. After running 10 hours on Thursday, we’ll need to completely rebuild the car, so it is brand new for the race. The workload will be intense.
 


“As Antonin and Alex haven’t race in the 24 Hours before, they will need to qualify on Thursday with a 10-lap run during the day and a three-lap run at night, to ensure they can start the race. To help them get the most out of the car, the input and experience of Nicolas will be vital, even more so than in the other races. Our aim is to make it into Hyperpole, but we understand that the competition is incredibly tough. As a team, we’re simply hoping to finish the race, as over 24 hours it is almost impossible to predict what might happen.
 


“In addition to the 24 Hours this will be our third Road to Le Mans, an event where the races are always dramatic and very closely fought. The team is certainly aiming high but need to ensure there are no mistakes if we’re to gain points on our competitors in the championship. With the event split into two 55-minute races, there is bound to be drama. Qualifying and the start are therefore of paramount importance, and from that point our strategy will depend on whether there are any full course yellows or slow zones.”
 




Event schedule
 


Wednesday 16 September

 
08:00 – 18:00 24 Hours of Le Mans Administrative checking and scrutineering
 



Thursday 17 September

 
08:30 – 09:30 Road to Le Mans FP1
10:00 – 13:00 24 Hour of Le Mans FP1
14:00 – 17:00 24 Hours of Le Mans FP2
17:15 – 18:00 24 Hours of Le Mans Qualifying
18:30 – 19:30 Road to Le Mans FP2
20:00 – 00:00 24 Hours of Le Mans FP3
 


Friday 18 September

 
08:30 – 08:50 Road to Le Mans Q1
09:10 – 09:30 Road to Le Mans Q2
10:00 – 11:00 24 Hours of Le Mans FP4
11:30 – 12:00 24 Hours of Le Mans Hyperpole
14:15 – 15:10 Road to Le Mans Race 1
 


Saturday 19 September

 
10:30 – 10:45 24 Hours of Le Mans Warm-up
11:15 – 12:10 Road to Le Mans Race 2
14:30 24 Hours of Le Mans Race
 


Sunday 20 September

 
14:30 24 Hours of Le Mans Race finish



 




 RACING SPIRIT OF LÉMAN,  photos 1-5 Matthias Schrütt/racefilm.de 6-10 Jules Beaumont/AF300



Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/cool-racing-challenge-24h-le-mans---212643.html

15.09.2020 / MaP

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