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Deletraz: Closing Laps in LMP2 Battle Was “Far from Ideal”

Louis Deletraz reveals fuel conservation run impacted outcome of LMP2 race…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Louis Deletraz said the final laps of the Rolex 24 at Daytona were “far from ideal” from his point of view, having to both save fuel and attempt to fend off a hard-charging Colton Herta for the LMP2 class win.

The Swiss driver lost out on top class honors after he was told by his Tower Motorsport team to perform “massive lifts” in the closing stages of Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

Deletraz retook the class lead in his No. 8 Oreca 07 Gibson thanks to a fuel-only final stop that put him ahead of Herta’s DragonSpeed entry, which took fuel and four fresh Michelin tires.

“The main issue for us is that I was told that I had to save fuel,” Deletraz told Sportscar365. “There was a miscalculation somewhere because I didn’t have [enough] fuel to go to the end.

“That’s why I was put in this position where I had to lift massively to reach a target.”

He explained there was a “question mark” on fuel due to an issue with the rig not delivering a full load during the stop that was later detected by the team.

It set up for a heated duel between the two drivers for the class lead and eventual win, which saw Herta make a move on Deletraz in the newly named Le Mans Chicane, sending Deletraz’s Tower Oreca through the grass.

He eventually finished the race third in class after also getting passed by the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca of Giedo van der Garde.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” Deletraz said. “We did a really good job. We had a puncture with four hours to go and lost a minute and came back.

“We did a very good race but the last ten laps were far from ideal, I would say.”

When asked about the incident with Herta, Deletraz said: “He has to do it. It’s his job as well.

“I think it was not fair because I had no room to go and I was in the same position an hour before alongside him. 

“I gave him room [then], so we went alongside together. I think it was Colton [at the time]. I’m not sure, maybe it was O’Ward.

“But pushing someone off like this is not fair.”

Deletraz, however, admitted he was going at a reduced rate of speed in order to make it to the finish.

“That’s why I had to lift and that’s why he could come on the inside,” he said. “Then OK, it was probably not fair but if I was in that position maybe I would do it too.

“Two laps before the incident I was told we needed to save fuel. 

“Otherwise there’s no way he would have gotten past. I would have been quicker and had been better through traffic. 

“I was keeping him at bay. I kept watching him with the spotter. I was never at any risk. 

“But then I had to do massive lifts, save a lot of fuel and that’s how I got into this position.”

Herta said post-race that it was “difficult” getting around Deletraz, especially with traffic at play.

“I’s quite difficult to get a run and pass in these cars, especially with the Bus Stop,” he said. “You get a lot of aero wash.

“It took a few tries and it didn’t happen until I got a little help from traffic. And he backed off going into the Bus Stop to get a run and I was able to go up inside of him.”

Deletraz, who will be embarking on his first full season of WeatherTech Championship competition with season-long co-driver John Farano, said there were some positives to take away from the weekend.

“I think we showed our pace and we were pretty strong,” he said. “When you lead Daytona for I don’t know how many hours we were in front — a lot [of the time] — despite our puncture and all of that we can be very happy for the team and my teammates.

“For the whole season it’s very positive.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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