A shorter-than-expected Full Course Yellow dashed hopes of Glickenhaus Racing fighting for a podium finish in its maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance according to driver Pipo Derani and team principal Jim Glickenhaus.
The American-flagged team finished fourth and fifth overall with its pair of Pipo Moteurs-powered non-hybrid Le Mans Hypercar entries, led by the No. 708 machine of Derani, Franck Mailleux and Olivier Pla.
Bouncing back from an early incident with the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid that damaged the car’s nose, the trio enjoyed a nearly flawless run and came within fighting distance of the No. 36 Alpine A480 Gibson for third position in the closing stages.
However, the Podium Engineering-led effort lost out on the chance to battle the Alpine due to a FCY with four and a half hours to go when Mailleux was within reach of the French LMP1 entry until having to go into fuel conservation mode.
“We were really unlucky with one of the Full Course Yellows,” Derani told Sportscar365. “We gambled, we thought the FCY would take longer and then it went green.
“We had to do a full lap — we didn’t have energy anymore so we had to slow down — so that’s when we went from ten seconds behind to one minute.”
Glickenhaus added: “They pulled a Full Course Yellow to clean the track and we lost two minutes because we were going to go in to fuel. We didn’t have enough fuel to make a lap without going very, very slowly.
“We crawled around. If that didn’t happen we would have fought them right up until the end.
“Our calculations were that we could have gotten a podium mostly because of our stint length, which was really widely long.”
Despite the missed opportunity, Derani said he felt proud of the team’s result in the car’s first 24-hour race.
The No. 708 entry completed five fewer pit stops than the race-winning No. 7 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez.
“I think it’s fantastic to be able finish such a race is already an achievement,” said Derani. “But to come here with such a new program for the first time, for Glickenhaus, I think everyone should be very happy and proud of the job we did.
“Of course we wanted to be a little bit better but I think you have to take the positives.
“It was a big, big positive that we came to the finish line with both cars.
“Second, at some points of the race we were really competitive. It gives us a good starting point for the future. It was a very good race and I’m very happy to have finished the race.”
The Brazilian said he didn’t feel like the team made any compromises in order to ensure both cars making it to the finish.
“I honestly think we did the best we could,” he said. “Unfortunately we lost a little bit of time here and there but I think it’s due to the fact that the team is new to the race and the car… It’s only the third race we did with this car.
“I think we need to be really happy about what we achieved today. Of course being on the podium would have been fun but the teams that were there did a little bit better job than us.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report