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Hayden: “Lesson Learned” from 24H Le Mans Exclusion

Bart Hayden: “Lesson Learned” from Le Mans exclusion…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Vaillante Rebellion team manager Bart Hayden said the exclusion of its No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson from last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was a “lesson learned” as the Anglo-Swiss squad looks to move forward and focus on its title fight in the remaining FIA World Endurance Championship rounds.

The Nelson Piquet Jr., Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson-driven entry lost its third place overall finish and runner-up LMP2 result due to modifications made to the car’s homologated bodywork, stripping the team of its first overall podium finish in the French endurance classic.

While two senior members of the team have been internally placed on a one-race suspension for this weekend’s Six Hours of Nürburgring, Hayden said they haven’t had much time to dwell on the disappointments of Le Mans.

“We’ve had some meetings internally and we talked about the situation,” he told Sportscar365. “I think it’s a lesson learned from everybody.

“We were in a situation where for much of the race, we were P1 and P2, only to see it slipping away. I think it acts of desperation to try and hang on to some part of what we were experiencing there. That’s what happened.”

Both of the team’s Orecas faced starter motor issues over the course of the race, which prompted the No. 13 crew to drill a hole in the bodywork in order to use a hammer to help restart the engine during pit stops.

While Hayden admitted the measure “would have been applauded” five years ago, it is deemed illegal in the new-for-2017 LMP2 regulations, as the homologated bodywork cannot be modified.

“It’s interesting when you read people’s comments on the Internet,” Hayden said. “It’s split opinion.

“Half of the people say, ‘Why have they been penalized? Surely the spirit of Le Mans is about getting to the end no matter what.’ Then you have others that say, ‘The rules are the rules.’

“I guess at the end of the day that’s the situation. I think the ‘years of old’ are probably a little bit more laissez-faire and a comprehension of the circumstances. But it’s not the world we live in now.”

Despite the disappointment, and WEC points blow to the No. 13 car, Hayden said their performance at Le Mans, and the LMP2 class as a whole, has provided them with optimism heading into the remainder of the season, as well as next year’s race.

“The cars are super fast as you can see,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen with LMP1; until the end of the month there’s a bit of a question mark how that’s all going to go.

“The gratifying thing is that the P2 cars were as quick as we expected them to be.

“On the whole, the reliability wasn’t bad. For much of the race, we had cars that were running P1 and P2, and that was through strategy and everything else.

“That encourages you and makes you think… Normally in the second year of running these types of cars, you know a bit more about the niggles and quirks and you rectify them.

“You’d like to think that if we went back to Le Mans with these cars again next year, we’d have a really strong chance.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jeff Wagner

    July 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I STRONGLY feel the two crew members were placed on the one race suspension to be P.C. to please those very small % of Fans, but most importantly to please the sponsors! THEY HAD NOTHING to lose by modifying the bodywork! It has been stated many times before the only other option was to remove the rear body section EVERY pit stop to access the starter! The massive extra time that would have taken over all of those remaining pit stops would have put them so far down the order anyways! The best thing to do was EXACTLY what they did, get a good finish, cross their fingers it slips through inspection, if it didn’t admit right away their pants were around their ankles and handle it correctly. They handled it correctly LOL.

  2. NaBUru38

    July 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    “But it’s not the world we live in now”

    Welcome to the LMP2 spec era. LMP1 is next, sooner than you think.

    • Jeff Wagner

      July 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      So you suggest to please the “Moral Minority of P.C. Fans” like you seem to be with that statement, they should just give up and just run the next 3/4 of the race as an exercise in futility taking the bodywork off??? As I stated already: only other option was to remove the rear body section EVERY pit stop to access the starter! The massive extra time that would have taken over all of those remaining pit stops would have put them so far down the order anyways! The best thing to do was EXACTLY what they did, get a good finish, cross their fingers it slips through inspection, if it didn’t admit right away their pants were around their ankles and handle it correctly. They handled it correctly LOL.

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