Spa is always exciting and foreboding in equal measure before attacking it in any race car but particularly a sports car.
With all of the top speed but more weight than their close cousins in single seaters.
The critical ‘big moments’ of the lap; Eau Rouge, Blanchemant, Pouhon are magnified in LMP cars. We turn up just as fast or faster and try to use the abundant downforce from a massive venturi tunnel to make almost a ton of race car obedient at maximum speed.
The feeling is one of massive ‘energy’ generation as the car does the huge amount of work required to change direction at Vmax.
Eau Rouge is a massive challenge and the setup is always a compromise between the normal tire performance and handling, alongside keeping the thing off the plank in Europe’s most famous chicane.
Alongside the normal stuff, the tire was behaving very interestingly this weekend with massive drop off from the new to old tire in the second stint.
We were extremely race-focused in practice, a strategy which played out with a difficult qualifying performance for David and Tristan.
It was clear we were nowhere on the short runs and at that point scarcely believed the analysis telling us that it would ‘all be ok in the race’.
But as the second stint wore on, it was clear that the strategy in terms of tire management would work!
Tristan drove two excellent stints to move through the field from the back in his starting double stint.
After we appeared to struggle at the start, exactly the effect our engineers predicted played out and we started to plough through the field.
When I jumped in the narrative held. I held station behind the leading Rebellion for the early stages, only creeping towards the race lead on our new rubber.
But when we exited the box for the second stint it was clear we had all kinds of performance in comparison to our competition.
I posted it up the inside of the Rebellion and set off after Alex Lynn who was leading the race for G-Drive.
We had the car to turn up at his gearbox at that point and after a pretty short and quite reserved battle (there was a long way to go), I turned through La Source in the lead for the No.37. After the problems we had had in Silverstone this was a nice moment for the team.
David jumped in after me and pushed hard bringing the car in 4th without a scratch on it. He had made a real step forward from Silverstone.
We were on for a result and perhaps even a fight for the top-three, but Eau Rouge would have on last word to say.
Tristan got really unlucky catching the bumps at the bottom of the hill and the barriers at the top. It has been tricky there all weekend and this time it bit him.
The team did an amazing job on the rebuild with under three minutes spent in the garage, but unfortunately we had lost too much time to fight for the result we knew we were capable of.
I guess we will never know what we could have achieved but the performance to the mid-race point really showed our potential.
We had made our way to the front of the field in Spa, now all we need to do is stay there!