Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ brand-new SCG003C finished the 43rd ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 hour race in 35th place, after relentlessly climbing from 24th to 11th position in the first half of the race, and achieving the 8th best lap time overall in the second half.
One of the most exacting car races in the world, the 43rd edition of the ADAC Zurich 24-Hour Race at Nürburgring last weekend saw only 102 cars crossing the finish line, out of the 151 lined up on the starting grid the day before.
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus is not a newcomer to this race; their P4/5 Competizione finished 39th, nearly where she had started, in the 2011 edition. They went back the following year, adopting a new powertain combining a 4.0 liter V8 and a Formula 1-style KERS system and adding the letter M to the name (for Modificata, i.e. modified). P4/5 Competizione M finished the 2012 edition race in a remarkable 12th place, the best result ever attained by a hybrid car.
This year Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus challenged the Ring with their new SCG003C, which premiered March 5th 2014 at the Geneva International Motor Show in both a racing (SCG003C) and a breathtaking road- legal (SCG003S) version.
The project’s speed of development has been astounding. The team led by Paolo Garella designed and engineered SCG003C in a record-breaking 22 months from conception to her first track test, in the Vairano (Italy) proving ground last December.
Two SCG003C’s were built and went through the Qualifying Race at the Nürburgring on April 12th, 2015. Both cars made it into the 24 Hours “Top 30”: driver Lauck qualified “Macchinauno” (Car 1) in 6th position and driver Mutsch qualified “Macchinadue” (car #002) in 4th position.
For these exceptional results, just before the race, on May 15th the Nürburgring organizers awarded Jim Glickenhaus, the visionary owner of the Scuderia that carries his name, a special trophy for “Extraordinary achievement in engineering and development.”
During the Thursday night qualifying round, “Macchinadue”, owned by Christopher Ruud, suffered a spectacular 120 mph shunt crashing into the guardrails, and the yellow no. 40 Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003C had to withdraw from the race. American driver Ken Dobson, who was behind the wheel at the time, was protected from any injuries by the robust chassis safety structure design.
After making it through to the final 30 qualifying round on Friday afternoon (and earning the most distinctive flashing blue light), drivers Marino Franchitti, David Jahn, Manuel Lauck and Franck Mailleux started the black no. 9 Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003C, owned by Jim Glickenhaus himself, at 24th place in the grid.
In the first 6 hours of the race, SCG003C fought her way up from 24th to 15th position, until a second speeding offence in one of the speed-limit zones at 21h57 hit the team with a 3:32 minute time penalty, which resulted in the car moving down to 18th place.
SCG003C no. 9 picked up the pace again, chasing her way to an astonishing 11th place, when at 3h12, after more than 11 hours of continuous racing, an alternator V belt failed, forcing the car to loose an hour in the pit. After the stop, the car rejoined the race in 29th position.
At 07h00 and 85 laps the car was in 26th place, when the alternator V belt idler pulley locked, as a consequence of the previous breakdown, and the car returned to the pit. After losing a second hour to repairs it rejoined the race in 39th place.
At 15h15, 45 minutes to the end of the race, after a never-give-up comeback to 30th position, and notching the 8th best overall lap time of 8:26.480 on lap 95 at an outstanding average speed of 180.384 km/h, the car was back in the pit. A third alternator belt breakdown caused power steering failure and no battery voltage.
At 15h53 the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus team members succeeded in push-starting the car with their last bit of strength, so that SCG003C no. 9 was able to cross the chequered flag at 16h03 in 35th place. As the team rejoiced, the entire pit-lane applauded.
After the “Green Hell” superhuman effort, the team will convert SCG003C no. 9 to the street version (SCG003S), which Jim Glickenhaus will drive to Lake Como. There, at the world-renowned “Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este” on May 22nd-24th, she will be displayed in the “Concept Cars and Prototypes” category, surrounded by a Who’s Who of classic cars.
Jim Glickenhaus said, “It was a very emotional weekend for me. Seeing our car move from a napkin sketch to a fully functioning race car that was able to challenge and run with the top teams at the most demanding endurance race in the world was really something. The car that finished the 24 hours on Sunday is being road converted and will drive to and enter the Concorso d’Eleganza of Villa d’Este next Sunday. I’m not sure a car has ever done that.”
Paolo Garella, SCG003 Program Director and team principal, said, “This is the 24 hours of the Nürburgring, this is the Nordschleife, and this is how we love to race. It has been a fantastic achievement to finish the race and this is just the start.”
Christopher Ruud, owner of SCG003C no. 40, said, “I am very excited for the SCG003c program. The car stood the test of endurance for 24 hours and crossed the finish at its first major endurance event. While our team had the unfortunate luck, due to a rain-soaked qualifying crash, to only be able to start one of the two cars, the entire team was shown the success of the program and the speed the car is capable of for future events. We look forward to being back on the track as soon as possible and to compete around the world”.
Yesterday was a hard day for our team as MacchinaDue had an accident under the rain during the Qualifying 1 nighttime. The driver walked unhurt after hitting the barrier at a speed over 190Km/h. MacchinaDue front structure absorbed an incredible amount of energy and the new safety seat contained and protected the driver. A lot of tears were shed by the team members, drivers, mechanics, engineers, but this is the Ring, this is the NORDSCHLEIFE! It does not forgive, and we learnt our lesson in the hardest way. Now the team is more united than ever and already back to work, getting ready for tomorrow’s qualifying. A lot of work is still to be done and the team embraced in a big hug that made everybody stronger and more determined than ever to achieve our goal. This is motor racing and we love it!
All the targets were achieved by Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ SCG003C during the Qualifying Race that took place at the Nürburgring on 12th April, 2015.
Both cars were qualified for the 24 Hours “Top 30”, while all SCG drivers were qualified to the race that will take place on 16th and 17th May, 2015.
Noise issues were finally solved while the overall car reliability was proved, despite an electrical fault that prevent “Macchinadue” to compete in the race.
The Team Drivers offered a brilliant performance: Lauck, Jahn and Franchitti qualified “Macchinauno” in 6th position, while Dobson, Westphal, Mutsch and Mailleux qualified Macchinadue in 4th position, leaving beyond some prestigious competitors.
At the start of the race, Manuel Lauck brought Macchinauno to 2nd place and was able to keep this position until the car was black flagged as too loud. The noise issue was definitively solved at the pit box, by the fitting of new mufflers.
Macchinauno then advanced from 61th to 13th position and won the SP-X Class.
Lap time during the race was always at the level of top cars, confirming the car’s performance and endurance potential.
SCG003C Team will not run the VLN2 but will rather perform some additional test sessions with the objective of continuing the preparation to the 24Hour race.
Jim Glickenhaus said “We had a great weekend. I was very happy with the speed of the cars in the Qualifying Race and that we've secured a place in the Top 30 Shoot-out for the 24 Hour Race which was our main goal. The Organizers did a great job to ensure safety for all and I'm glad they're open to tweaking the new rules so that the teams can race safely and put on a good show. I'm disappointed that we had an electrical wiring problem in Car#002 and really thank Bosch and Audi for trying so hard to help us. Car#001 ran very well during the race and we moved up to P2 from Q6 when once again we were Flagged for being too loud. We had made pre-race changes but more were needed so we pitted and fit even bigger mufflers. We lost a lot of time and went back out at P62. We fought back to finish 13th overall and 1st in Class and finished the 6 Hours without any mechanical issues. We have a lot of work to do before the 24H but remain extremely hopeful that both cars will have a great race”.
Car#002’s owner Chris Ruud added “SCG had several goals for the weekend and we accomplished those goals. The team successfully worked hard to get both cars near the front of the grid. Thank you to the organizers for working for a quick solution to be able to race this weekend. While the weekend had challenges, I feel confident we will have two strong and competitive cars for the 24 Hour race in a few weeks”
According to SCG003 Program Director Paolo Garella “the car development is positively progressing and is closer and closer to achieve the goal for a fast and reliable car. The team promptly responded to any recovery activity that had to be performed on the cars during the race, which is extremely positive to the program”.
“Wow, what a weekend!” said driver Manuel Lauck. “We were in Top5 in every session and especially during the race we could show our performance! It was a great feeling to be 2nd during my stint. The car is amazing, really looking forward to the 24H. Thank you to all the Team!”
Marino Franchitti joined Manuel Lauck’s enthusiasm by saying “It was a great first "real" race for us, the car ran faultlessly for 6 hours which is incredible for such a new program. The speed was also impressive and we learned a huge amount that will allow us to be fully prepared for the 24hr. Personally I hadn't raced at the Ring since 2009, so the near 3 hours I drove was really helpful. A big thank you to everyone in the team and my team mates for the fantastic result.”
David Jahn finally added “Also for me it was a good weekend. I had a lot of fun driving the SCG around the Nordschleife for many laps. The car is already much better than in VLN 1 and I ́m sure the whole team is working hard to make the car even better for the 24h race. I ́m already really looking forward to the race weekend. Thanks to everyone for their hard work!” The team is already back to work to let the next test drive taking place in the upcoming weeks.
At the sixth and final round of the European Le Mans Series the Swiss racing team Race Performance only just missed a podium finish. Together with team partner MOMO Megatron the squad saw the chequered flag on forth position. Michel Frey and his driver colleagues Franck Mailleux and Patric Niederhauser could maintain second rank for a long time, but unfortunately lost some valuable time after an unhappy collision with an opponent just before the end of the race.
“It's a great pity that we lost our good position so close ahead of the finish”, explained a disappointed Michel Frey. “We were away with a really strong pace and improved to second position. The car was perfectly prepared and a podium finish was easily possible today.” However, despite the collision prevented a podium finish, Michel Frey looks back on a successful season. “A huge thank you goes to the complete team and of course to our partners. They all have made a tremendous job over the whole year.”
GP3 driver Patric Niederhauser shone with a strong performance. At the season final of the series the youngster supported the two racing professional Frey and Mailleux for the first time. The Swiss proved his great talent with a whole bunch of quick laps behind the wheel of the Oreca 03 Judd LMP2 racer. “It was really awesome to see Patric feeling so confident with the car. The quick laps underlined this”, explained team manager Michel Frey.
With the sixth round of the European Le Mans Series in Portugal the season of the popular racing series has come to an end. After a successful and thrilling year the team Race Performance and its partner MOMO Megatron are looking forward already to the tasks and challenges of the 2015 season.
Anything else than luck was with the team Race Performance and MOMO Megatron at the penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series. On the high-speed circuit Paul Ricard technical problems forced the two drivers Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux to do a chase through the field from the back of the grid of the popular sports-car series. With a strong performance, they finally managed to finish seventh in the four hours endurance race, claiming valuable points ahead of the season final of the championship.
“I had a good start and was able to keep pace with the top”, explained Michel Frey after the race. “However, after about three laps I realized that something was wrong. I couldn't shift into the sixth gear any longer, what is really a big disadvantage, especially on this kind of circuit.” The experienced and ambitious technicians of the team were able to solve the software problem on the Oreca 03 Judd in the pit and sent the Swiss out on the track again with a deficit of three laps. Dropped back to position 27, Frey and his team mate Franck Mailleux started with a chase through the field.
The team Race Performance was not to stop: with a tremendous performance the two racing professionals improved positions again lap by lap, and after about two hours they appeared back on eighth rank again. Franck Mailleux, who shone with quick lap times, was full of fighting spirit. “It was really a pity, that we had the problem at the beginning of the race. We lost a lot of time. However, we pushed really hard and gradually made up the lost ground again. With that we could show, that we had the pace to claim a podium finish today. Concerning the circumstances we clinched a good result.”
The final round of the European Le Mans Series takes place in four weeks. Nothing is decided in the fiercely contested series yet, and the team Race Performance and its Partner MOMO Megatron are looking forward.
It's getting serious now for the team Race Performance from Switzerland. Together with the team partner MOMO Megatron the racing squad is at the start in the fifth round of the European Le Mans Series on the Circuit Paul Ricard Circuit in France. The team is fighting for the title in the popular sportscar racing series. The race on the 5.8 kilometres long circuit is the penultimate opportunity to clinch important points for the championship.
The goal is clear: After the podium successes on the Austrian Red Bull Ring and the English Silverstone Circuit the two drivers Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux finally want to step on the top stage of the podium. With a gap to the championship leader of only eleven points their chances for the title win are still alive. “In the last races we could show what we are able to do, provided that everything runs without problems”, says Michel Frey. “In order to keep our chances in the championship alive, we have to come up with a perfect race in Le Castellet and try to claim the victory. Our tests at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the spring time proved that we basically got the pace to do so.”
Also Franck Mailleux is looking forward to the race with the Oreca 03 Judd: “I am really pleased to be back on the race track next weekend after such a long time without racing. As much points as possible are essential this weekend and a podium finish is the very least what we expect.” so the lhe likeable Frenchman, who knows about the importance of the penultimate round of the season. In Paul Ricard we want to lay the basis for the final round of the season in Portugal. Our aim is to claim the championship and we don't want to miss this goal.”
The race over a distance of four hours starts for the highly motivated team Race Performance and MOMO Megatron on Sunday, 13:00pm. It will be the start into the hot phase for the title fight in the European Le Mans Series.
The team Race Performance and MOMO Megatron finished the fourth race of the European Le Mans Series in Austria on the podium. After a strong weekend the drivers Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux had lots of reason to celebrate their third place and confirmed their performance from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Already in the first practice session the first place of the Swiss racing team showed that the Oreca 03 Judd will be among the frontrunners. “I am really satisfied with our result. I was happy with my first stint but not with the second one. This was our second podium finish of the season. Now we put all of our effort to finally claim a victory in the remaining races,” Michel Frey gave a realistic statement after the exhausting race. During the first pit stop the crew lost around 30 seconds, because one of the wheels could not be loosened properly at the tire change. This technical problem probably cost the victory for the squad from Switzerland.
„What a race. We had a good pace and could have taken the victory,“ knows Franck Mailleux. Nevertheless he stays confident after the four-hour-race on the Red Bull Ring. “Now we are looking forward to the next race at Le Castellet full of confidence. After Le Mans that will be my second home race of the season. We have already collected lots of experience during the test at the Circuit Paul Ricard at the beginning of the year. Therefore we are optimistic.”
The fifth race of the renowned European endurance series will be held on September 14 at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The track, which is situated 40 kilometers north-east of Marseille, offers Race Performance and its partner Momo Megatron the chance to take part in the title-fight again.
Next weekend the Swiss team Race Performance on the Red Bull Ring starts into the second half of the season of the European Le Mans Series. Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux, together with partner MOMO Megatron, want to tie to the great performance of the 24 hours race of Le Mans. On the Formula 1 Circuit in Austria both drivers have the possibility to narrow the scarce gap of only eleven points to the top of the team standings.
“We have had a fantastic week in Le Mans, and in the first half of the race we were able to prove that our pace is really competitive. Unfortunately we run into trouble with the fuel pump after about six hours and had to come into the pit-lane to get it repaired, what cost a lot of time. Although we saw the chequered flag and finished the race, we were quite disappointed with the result”, concludes Michel Frey after the race classic at the Sarthe. “However, now it’s time to focus on the ELMS and its fiercely contested title fight. With a top result it could be possible to narrow the gap to the top. We had a quite competitive car in last year’s race in Austria, therefore we are travelling to Spielberg with confidence.”
Franck Mailleux expects a tough battle in the LMP2 classification as well. However, he is looking forwards to the race with the Oreca 03 Judd on the Red Bull Ring. “In Le Mans we could show what we are able to do, now it’s up to us to prove this upwards trend. I am really pleased and I can hardly wait for the ELMS weekend in Spielberg.”
The race with a distance of four hour for Michael Frey and his highly motivated team Race Performance MOMO Megatron starts on Sunday, 14.00 pm. The aim for the team is to succeed in the close battle for the championship.
At the MOMO-Megatron return to Le Mans the team Race Performance impressed with a strong drive: in front of about 300.000 spectators the team around Michel Frey at times was leading the LMP2-Class and was involved in the battle for a podium finish for a long time. However, after some technical problems the team after 24 hours had to settle with eighth position.
“We can really be proud, because we saw the chequered flag in the most important race of the year”, Michel Frey draws a first summary. The team manager of the Race Performance squad looks back on the 82nd edition of the 24 hours race of Le Mans. “We worked really hard and we were able to fight for a podium finish. However, in the end we missed a little luck to do so.” Right from the start the team from Switzerland did a great job. At the beginning of the race it was Franck Mailleux, who delivered a superb performance and made his way through the field up to a marvelous sixth rank in the overall standings of the race. In the fiercely contested LMP2-Class, the Frenchman was on top of the list. “The car was simply superb, even compared to the much stronger LMP1 vehicles. I was able to pass a number of opponents”, says the 29-year-old.
However, due to technical problems, Mailleux and his team mates Michel Frey and Jon Lancaster missed a podium finish in the classics at the Sarthe. At first the team suffered with a failure of the fuel pump, later on it was a broken starter, which forced the team to an unscheduled pit stop that cost additional time again. “Without these problems we probably would have managed a podium”, explained Frey.
After the most important race of the year, the team Race Performance has the opportunity to charge up the batteries again. The next round of the ELMS takes place from July, 19th to 20th. Europe’s leading endurance championship travels to the picturesquely situated Red Bull Ring in Austria. In the divine mountain backdrop of Styria, Michel Frey and his team want to tie to the good performance and fight for a top result once again.
At the second race weekend of the European Le Mans Series in Imola the Swiss team Race Performance missed a little luck. Due to some difficult circumstances during lapping manoeuvres Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux after a strong second rank at the season opener had to settle with 18th position this time. Nevertheless, the driver duo was not dissatisfied: Behind the wheel of the Oreca 03 Judd both drivers proved their performance once again, underlining that they belong to the fastest pilots of the championship. In view of the 24 hours of Le Mans (June,14th to 15th) the team is full of optimism.
“It was not an easy weekend for us”, says Michel Frey, who in the course of numerous lapping manoeuvres repeatedly lost time. “There was a lot of traffic on the track, and one time I was even forced off the circuit by a slower car, ending up in the gravel trap.” Nevertheless, the team Race Performance didn't give up: With an impressive performance and driving constantly quick laps Mailleux battled through the field up to fifth position in the overall classification again. However, some minutes before the end of the race Michel Frey was pushed off the track another time, and with that the team finally had to settle with seventh rank in the class and 18th position in the overall result of the race.
Anyway, Michel Frey and Franck Mailleux draw a positive balance of the weekend. “It's a real shame to have so much bad luck, because after our tremendous race at the season opener a good result could have been possible this time as well. However, the most important thing is to know that we are competitive and that we can tie on our good pace in the next races. Now our focus is concentrated completely on the 24 hours of Le Mans, from which we expect quite a lot.”
A packed schedule is ahead before the team Race Performance travels to the event of the year. Already next week the team goes through a comprehensive test on the French Magny Cours Circuit. After that, Race Performance is heading for the official pre-test of the 24 hours of Le Mans to be finally at the start at the endurance classic at the Sarthe.
The start of the season of the European Le Mans Series in Silverstone was more than exciting. In a gripping race, which lasted more than four hours, the Swiss Michel Frey and the Frenchman Franck Mailleux managed to take second place. Thanks to these two experienced drivers the team Race Performance had a perfect start into the season.
The fight for the victory in the last laps was particularly exciting for the British fans. Showing a great performance, Michel Frey had been holding pole position until the last minutes of the race. An unfortunate incident during the lapping of a slower driver from the GT class enabled Michel Frey’s competitor Tristan Gommendy to overtake him.
“It was really painful of course, to be losing the first position right before crossing the finish line”, says Michel Frey. “It was extremely close at the top. The three vehicles leading the race were only seconds close to each other. There were no mistakes to be committed.” In the end the 40-year-old was second to cross the finish line, leading by one second over Gary Hirsch in his Morgan-Judd.
The podium position gained in Silverstone makes the team from Switzerland look optimistic towards the coming races. “I think we managed to confirm and prove our performance and our ambitions to get the title”, explains Franck Mailleux. “The whole team got on perfectly and kept improving from session to session. I’m looking forward to the coming races.”
Already in a few weeks there will be the next possibility for the team Race Performance to fight for a victory. From 17th to 18th May the European Le Mans Series will be held at the former GP-track in Imola.
The Swiss based crew is attacking its fifth consecutive season in the European Le Mans Series and has also placed a registration for the 24h of Le Mans. After encouraging races and lap times in the 2013 season, the crew around Urs Meier and Michel Frey wanted to keep the adventure on going in order to prove that even the top spot of the podium is achievable.
“We had great experiences in 2013 with Patrick Niederhauser who proved that our car is 100 % competitive. Unfortunately we were not always able to put the pieces together in the races after Silverstone. This consistency is the top priority for 2014”, says Michel Frey. In order to underline this, the team was looking to find a driver with a proven speed and a lot of experience in endurance racing. “Today we are very happy to announce, that we have signed the contract with Franck Mailleux. He will join our team for the full season and hopefully the 24h of Le Mans. Franck’s attitude, his team spirit and the speed he was showing always impressed us and I am happy we could make the deal together.”
“I am delighted to be confirmed with Race Performance for this season and thankful to Urs Meier and Michel Frey for the faith they put into me. Race Performance is an experienced team with a highly motivated crew. Added to my personal experience with 5 seasons in endurance racing including 5 Le Mans starts and a championship-winning season in ILMC in 2011, I think that we have all in hands to be very competitive for the ELMS and to deserve an invitation to fight at Le Mans 24 hours.”
Regarding the third driver the team confirms that it will add another absolute top name – someone who merited some of the highest crowns in international single seater racing – to its driver line up. Everything has been confirmed and the signing of the contract should only be a formality. Announcements available after this weekend.
Racing star Franck Mailleux is already looking towards the 2014 season as he reflects on a successful 2013 campaign. The Frenchman started the season competing in the European Le Mans Series with Morand Racing and set the championship alight in the opening round at Silverstone, as he took charge of the race.
Despite being forced to retire from the 3 Hours of Silverstone from the lead, Franck used his driving expertise in the subsequent races with Morand as he scored podiums at Imola and in Austria, as well as fifth in class at the Le Mans 24 Hours. He was unable to see out the season with the team but he is hoping to secure a drive in GT or ideally the World Endurance Championship for 2014 that will see him continue his presence in sports car racing.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, how do you review the 2013 season from your perspective?
“There have been quite a good number of highlights for me this season despite the year not ending in the way that I hoped. From the very start of the first test with Morand, I knew that I would be competitive in the ELMS and so it proved at Silverstone when we were fast straight out of the garage. The conditions in the race were tricky but it was a real shame when we were forced to retire from the lead after the first hour. The pace was there and so it was great when we scored podiums in subsequent races.”
Do those podium results in Imola and Austria make you a strong contender for a 2014 seat somewhere?
“I certainly hope that my performances in 2013 will make someone sign me for next year. I know that I am strong enough to race at the very front with the best drivers in the world, so I am looking at a number of options for 2014, including GT racing and of course in Le Mans. I have many contacts and we are having some talks but nothing is fixed yet. I know I can be a real asset to any team in any championship.”
What have you been doing recently?
“I have been sure to keep training, something that I enjoy doing even away from racing. I took part in a 10km run near to Rennes at the end of November and I finished well with a time comfortably under 40 minutes. Running is a very different type of endurance race but one that I find quite exhilarating. I can now head into the festive period to have some relaxing time with family and friends but with my sights set firmly on finding a competitive seat in 2014.”
Endurance racer Franck Mailleux made a triumphant return to his former team at the weekend when he joined Signatech for their fifth annual karting 24 hour event. It was the 23rd running of the traditional event for Signature Racing as a whole, and an event that Franck has participated in many times previously.
For this year’s event, a total of 32 teams and 237 drivers took part with Franck’s team D&P 1 taking third place overall after 24 hours of competitive karting around the Sologne karting track, the Circuit International de Salbris.
Although the event was just held as a fun gathering of the Signatech team, its partners and friends, the result showed that Franck had lost none of his competitive edge following his podium scoring results in the European Le Mans Series earlier in the season.
Franck said: “It was nice to be back part of the Signature family for the annual 24 hour karting event, which is always a lot of fun. We had a really great time and completed somewhere near to 1,000 laps of the track. We finished in third place against some very competitive teams and drivers but the social side of things was far more important and to spend some time with friends. It was definitely a nice way to end the 2013 season!”
French endurance champion Franck Mailleux will make his commentary debut for Motors TV this weekend as he covers the eighth round of the American Le Mans Series as well as the fifth round of the Blancpain Endurance Series for the popular channel.
Until recently, Franck contested the European Le Mans Series with Morand Racing and helped the team to secure two podium results in the first three ELMS races, so he has plenty of relevant experience to impart to the Motors TV viewers.
Furthermore, as 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup champion, five time Le Mans participant and 24 Hour podium scorer, Franck is one of the most successful endurance racers in recent years.
ALMS moves to Austin for this weekend’s eighth round with the Circuit of The Americas playing host to its debut endurance event, while Blancpain visits Nürburgring for its 1000km race. The German track is one Franck knows well from his time with Volkswagen as the Frenchman took a third place finish in the 2009 Nürburgring 24 Hours.
The commentary duties will keep Franck busy as he looks to secure a return to racing after his finances were insufficient to complete the 2013 ELMS season with Morand after leading the season opener at Silverstone and scoring third place results at Imola and the Red Bull Ring.
Franck said: “It is with pleasure that I take to the microphone with Motors TV this weekend. It is regrettable that my racing season was interrupted after such a successful start to the championship but it is a great opportunity for me to do some commentary and to see another side of fantastic endurance racing. I am a big fan of ALMS and Blancpain series and can’t wait to see how the drivers get on at two very different styles of circuit – the brand new Circuit of The Americas in Austin and the well-known Nürburgring, a circuit I know well from racing over the years but particularly the 24 Hours with Volkswagen. It’s going to be strange being the other side of racing but it’s a nice opportunity and I look forward to working with Motors TV, a channel all race fans will know well!”
Franck Mailleux Commentary Schedule – Motors TV France
Saturday 21 September - American Le Mans Series in Austin From 19.00-00.00 (CET)
Sunday 22 September - Blancpain Endurance at Nürburgring 11.30-13.30, 15.30-17.30
French endurance star Franck Mailleux has been forced to withdraw from the two remaining races of the 2013 European Le Mans Series for financial reasons.
The 28-year-old who has taken two podium finishes in the past two ELMS rounds this season will not be able to join Morand Racing for the Hungaroring and Paul Ricard rounds as his expected budget for the season has not been realised.
Mailleux has been one of the most prominent drivers in endurance racing in the past few years having taken the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP1 title in 2011 and being a regular podium contender no matter what circuit or discipline he contests.
His reluctant withdrawal from the championship means he will not be able to capitalise on his two recent strong showings, in which he has helped Morand Racing to fifth in the team standings. He is now ready to take on any new challenges that present themselves for this season and the future.
Franck Mailleux commented: “I am really disappointed not to be able to contest the final two rounds of the European Le Mans Series, especially after our recent strong podium showings in Imola and Austria. I had secured my budget for the first part of the season and I was convinced that I would be able to raise enough for the final rounds. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible so I am forced to cut my season short. It is such a shame because I feel that I have performed well with some good results and settling in well to the Morand Racing team. I would like to thank the team for their support this season and for being able to share some great podiums. I wish them the best for the rest of the season. I am ready for any other racing opportunities that might come my way and to put my considerable experience to good use.”
Franck Mailleux heads into the traditional summer break in high spirits after another impressive performance in the European Le Mans Series, this time around the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Franck, together with the Morand Racing team and team-mate Natacha Gachnang, finished in a highly creditable third place to secure their second consecutive ELMS podium of the season. The result has taken Morand Racing to fifth in the ELMS team standings and Franck up to sixth place overall with two races left to contest later in the year.
The first visit by the ELMS to Red Bull Ring was met with hot conditions over the weekend but the comparatively short nature of the track made traffic the biggest obstacle in the race. Franck looks back at his weekend.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, a great result for you and the team, how was it from your point of view?
“It was a good weekend both in terms of our performance level and also operationally. We worked very well as a team and were able to get a lot of competitiveness out of the Morgan Judd and Dunlop package. There were a few things we could have improved, which is quite normal during a busy race weekend, but it was fantastic to score a second ELMS podium and to improve our championship standings.”
It was the first visit to the Red Bull Ring for ELMS, what did you make of the circuit?
“It is always nice to visit new venues and to experience new circuits, so it was fun in that respect. When you have up to thirty cars on a shorter circuit it always means there is a lot of traffic, which makes the racing quite tricky, that was the only downside. I wasn’t able to get a clear lap in qualifying but we still lined up fourth and could transfer that pace into a podium, which was our target. We had hot weather during the weekend and the car suited the circuit layout very well. We had good reliability, speed and I think we can be pleased with how we performed.”
What’s the plan for the summer break?
“Our next ELMS race is not until September so we have nearly two month to reflect on the races we have had this season, including the Le Mans 24 Hours. There are plenty of positive aspects to take from our season so far and I am confident we can resume racing in September with a similarly good performance. I also plan to take enjoy the summer but at the same time to keep training, keep in shape and work with the Morand Racing team to be ready to fight hard at the next race.”
French endurance ace Franck Mailleux has claimed a sensational podium in today’s 3 Hours of Red Bull Ring in Austria as the Morand Racing team enjoyed a trouble-free race to take third at the chequered flag.
Franck had qualified the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car in fourth place earlier in the day and he made a great start in the opening laps to gain one place to run in third as the race settled down.
With plenty of action around the 4.326km circuit in the opening hour, Franck completed an extremely competitive double stint which allowed the team to position themselves firmly in the podium places. His first scheduled stop around the 31 lap mark saw him drop a place to fourth but he was able to jump back up to third spot when the lead car was brought in for a 30s stop and go penalty.
By the race’s halfway point, and thanks to his performance, Franck handed over to his team-mate Natacha Gachnang in second position overall. Although Natacha was unable to fend off her closest challenger, she fought hard and drove a strong double stint to retain a top three place until the end of the race to secure Morand Racing’s second podium of the ELMS championship following a third place finish at Imola in May.
The result sees the team jump up to fifth in the overall championship and cements Morand Racing’s status as podium challengers at each circuit on the ELMS calendar, something the team will continue to build on in time for the next race at Hungary in September.
Franck Mailleux commented: “I am really pleased with this excellent result. We came here confident in our package, the car and the Dunlop tyres, and our competitiveness was confirmed with today’s podium result. We had a decent qualifying this morning and although I was sure a top three place was possible, we still found ourselves in fourth and ready to mount a podium challenge. The start of the race was great and I was happy with the responsiveness and pace of the Morgan Judd LMP2 and Dunlop tyres. The traffic was difficult because of so many cars on a short track so it was important to keep focussed. Once Natacha took over at halfway, we were in second place but in such a closely fought field it was difficult to maintain that place but she fought incredibly hard to keep a great third place. We knew from the first race of the season at Silverstone that we have the pace required for the podium in this tough series and to be able to add another podium to our one from Imola is a great reward for the work of the whole team. We can head into the summer break in buoyant mood and preparing for when ELMS resumes in September.”
Franck Mailleux has made an auspicious start to the Red Bull Ring 3 Hours with a competitive fifth place in this morning’s qualifying session, setting a best lap time of 1m24.318s, a gap of just 0.6s from the pole time. His position was elevated to fourth after the provisional pole setter was demoted after a yellow flag infringement.
Franck, together with the Morand Racing squad, have enjoyed a lot of track time at the 4.326km circuit since Friday’s opening practice sessions, which has been especially important as Red Bull Ring is a new venue for the European Le Mans Series and for most teams and drivers.
Alongside his team-mate Natacha Gachnang, Franck completed a total of 62 laps across Friday’s two practice sessions, allowing the team to find a decent set-up for the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car, and to carry out evaluations of the Dunlop tyres.
The weather has been hot and dry so far this weekend so Franck will now be looking to get a good start in this afternoon’s three hour race and to convert his fifth place on the grid into another podium performance to follow the team’s third place at Imola back in May.
Franck Mailleux said: “It has been an enjoyable start to the 3 Hours of Red Bull Ring for me personally and for the Morand Racing team. This is a new venue for us so it has been important to focus on getting lap time and preparing the car in the best way for this afternoon’s race. We completed over sixty laps yesterday which gave me the confidence to attack in qualifying. It was a competitive session and I felt quick from the start. We were just over half-a-second from the pole time but I am sure we could have done even more if we hadn’t encountered yellow flags on the final run. A top three was possible but I am still very happy with our pace and confident we can have a strong race. From fifth, our sights are very much set on the podium. It’s an interesting circuit layout but a short lap so I expect it to be tough challenge with 30 cars on track at the same time.”
French endurance star Franck Mailleux will be looking to capitalise on his strong performances this season as the European Le Mans Series resumes this weekend with the Red Bull Ring 3 Hours in Austria.
Franck, will once again be at the helm of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car with Natacha Gachnang, as he aims to build on their seventh place in the championship standings. The duo impressed in the opening two rounds of the ELMS championship earlier this year with a race-leading performance at Silverstone followed by a maiden podium of the season at Imola in May, in which they finished in third place.
Franck is well rested and raring to go following the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours week which saw him put in a sublime performance to help the Morand Racing team into the top six of the competitive LMP2 category in some of the toughest conditions ever experienced at Le Mans.
The team is now fully focussed once again on the ELMS championship with Red Bull Ring making its debut on the championship calendar. It will be the first time that Franck and Morand Racing contest the 4.326km circuit, formerly known as the A1-Ring, which underwent significant redevelopment before its reopening in 2011. Competition will be as fierce as ever with 29 cars and 60 drivers participating with ten LMP2 cars vying for the podium places.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, are you looking forward to returning to ELMS action this weekend?
“We have had a couple of weeks to recover from an intense Le Mans week so it will be good to return to the cockpit and compete at the Red Bull Ring, a new venue for me and for ELMS; it promises to be an exciting challenge. We showed strong pace at Le Mans so I would like to continue where we left off at the last ELMS race in Imola with a podium finish and to build on our seventh place in the championship.”
Do you think the Morand Racing team has gelled well this season?
“I have had a fantastic time with the Morand Racing team and it has been a great experience to work with them, and together with Natacha. We get on very well and I think our experiences and abilities are an ideal fit. The LMP2 field is really competitive this year so we have to be on top form at all times. The Morgan Judd LMP2 and Dunlop tyres is a strong package and I know that when things run smoothly, we are more than capable to fight for the podium and even the win, as we showed with our competitiveness at Silverstone and Imola. Red Bull Ring will be a level playing field and I am confident we can do well.”
Franck Mailleux registered a sixth placed finish in the LMP2 category at last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours after a tough and challenging race which saw the Frenchman fight hard against the inclement weather conditions and a significant number of safety car periods.
After a good start to the race, jumping up to third in LMP2, Franck was caught out by the mixed weather conditions which resulted in some parts of the track being wet and others dry. A safety car period kept the race under control for the first hour but following an early spin in the tricky conditions and a driver change under the safety car, the Morand Racing team found themselves well down the order.
Franck subsequently had a strong race, setting some competitive times in amongst the numerous safety car and wet weather periods, and demonstrating his potential in the Dunlop shod Morgan Judd LMP2 during the night and into the morning. Franck, sharing the cockpit with Natacha Gachnang and Olivier Lombard, fought back to a creditable sixth place in LMP2 by the chequered flag but it made for a gruelling 24 hours.
Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, how would you summarise your performance in this year’s 24 Hours?
“I don’t think the conditions in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours gave anyone the chance to really showcase their full potential. It was a constant battle against the conditions with some really tricky weather and a lot of controlled safety car periods. Nevertheless, we fought our hardest and came back from a difficult opening hour to finish 12th and sixth in class. Not the result we were hoping for but to make it to the end of such a tough race was an achievement in itself.”
How was the start?
“I had a good start to the race and made it into the top three but the weather was already making things difficult with some wet patches on the track. I got caught and had a spin which dropped me back, and then we had the safety car period for most of the first hour. At Le Mans, it is important to keep focussed and keep fighting and that’s what we did during the rest of the race. It was one of the most competitive, tight LMP2 fields we’ve ever seen so it was always going to be a competitive event.”
How was the performance of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 and Dunlop tyres?
“When the track was dry and we were racing, the car felt good. We had a minor issue with the fuel pressure but the mechanics did a great job to fix that without losing any positions. Personally, I had some competitive triple stints and felt that I was able to get good performance from the car and tyres, even if the conditions were not ideal. The final hour of the race was pretty intense with the heavy rain but we kept our focus and as a team we performed well. The result was not what we wanted to achieve but in the circumstances, we have to look at our fight-back and take satisfaction from the overall team effort. We were the highest places ELMS team so I’m pleased with that.”
What’s next for you?
“We don’t have much of a recovery time from Le Mans, actually, because the next European Le Mans Series race takes place at the Red Bull Ring in July. Le Mans was good for us as a team and I think we have developed as a unit, so we will be taking this feeling forward to Austria in a few weeks from now. For now, though, I would like to thank the Morand Racing team for their support and hard work at Le Mans, which I think has been a hugely valuable experience as we move back into ELMS.”
French racer Franck Mailleux has made a strong finish to this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours as the Morand Racing team concluded the gruelling event in a fighting sixth place in class and 12th place overall.
The team made a cracking start to the race and were up into the top three in LMP2 by the second lap but unfortunately the changeable weather conditions, which played such a key role in the development of the race, caused Franck to spin at Tertre Rouge on the second lap and dropped him down into 21st place overall.
A safety car period followed on that second lap after an accident which sadly resulted in the death of driver Allan Simonsen. Under that extended safety car period, Franck pitted to hand over to Natacha Gachnang with the team resuming the race down in 43rd place and in need of a fight back.
The remainder of the 24 hour race was characterised by ever-evolving, changing and unpredictable weather conditions with occasional rain which was particularly heavy in the final hour of the race. There were also an unusually high number of safety car periods because of the tough conditions which created a staggered and interrupted race. This prevented teams from getting into a consistent rhythm.
Morand Racing, thanks to the determined performances of Mailleux, Gachnang and Olivier Lombard, managed to battle hard to continually improve their position right up to the chequered flag.
Triple stints, even if disrupted by numerous safety car conditions, saw the team make up ground, thanks to the performance of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 and the individual strengths of the three drivers. From 43rd in the first hour of the race to 12th by the chequered flag – 6th in LMP2 – was quite an achievement. The only difficulty was a fuel pressure problem in the morning which was fixed efficiently and professionally by the mechanics by changing the engine fuel filter to prevent any loss of position.
Franck said: “What a tough race for everyone. The conditions were hard and it was difficult to get into a consistent rhythm because of the changing weather and the number of safety car periods. After a difficult first hour which dropped us down the classification, we fought back hard with the three drivers – Natacha, Olivier and myself – all performing strong triple stints and getting everything we could out of the car and the Dunlop tyres. I was particularly pleased with my own performance in my final triple stint, which was a good pace. The weather was very unpredictable and really caused confusion in the final hour of the race; the heavy rain caught out a lot of people so it was a testament to our approach that we were able to keep the car going and make it to the end in 12th place overall. In the circumstances, that performance was impressive even if the end result is disappointing. I’d like to thank the Morand Racing team and my team-mates for their efforts this week. It’s been hard work but to get the car to the end of the Le Mans 24 Hours is always an achievement in itself. Finally, I would like to say a word of condolence to the family of Allan Simonsen; sad and truly terrible news for everyone involved in our sport.”
It has been a disjointed night for most drivers and teams at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as an extended seventh safety car period and wet weather conditions have put concentration levels at a premium.
Franck Mailleux had a trouble-free night-time run in the Morgan Judd LMP2 car as he took over from team-mate Olivier Lombard under the safety car conditions at around the halfway mark of the race.
With the safety car period being extended due to wet conditions at shortly before 4am, Franck’s pace was controlled. The change of weather conditions meant that as the rain started, Franck pitted under the safety car to change onto intermediate tyres before coming back onto slicks as the track dried up once more.
The team was able to maintain its position in 15th and seventh in category as Franck handed over to Natacha Gachnang as the race entered into the early daylight hours of Sunday morning.
Franck said: “We have had a generally trouble-free night, although the safety car periods have dictated the pace of the race for much of the overnight period. There have been a high number of safety cars which have made the race quite fragmented but in the circumstances, it has been sensible. I had a good run overnight taking from Olivier at 3am and handing over the reins to Natacha as the daylight was resuming. We have been able to keep our place in the top 15 and seventh in LMP2 with one-third of the race still left to run. Lots more can happen as the race comes to its conclusion so we keep pushing as a team in the hope of making up some places.”
Franck Mailleux and the Morand Racing team have spent Saturday evening recovering ground after losing out in the opening hours of this weekend’s 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Franck returned to the cockpit of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2, equipped with Dunlop tyres, at the six hour mark and embarked on a successful triple stint to extend the improvements made by the team throughout the evening.
Franck demonstrated competitive pace in his triple stint and handed over to Natacha Gachnang as the night-time conditions descended on the 13.6km La Sarthe circuit. With two thirds of the 24 hours still left to race, there is all to play for as Franck and the team look to catch the LMP2 cars ahead of them on the classification. As of 00:30, the team was 15th overall and eighth in LMP2.
Franck said: “After a tough start, we have settled into a nice rhythm now with all three drivers, myself, Natacha and Olivier all enjoying positive triple stints. We have had a couple of safety car periods so far, most recently at the turn of midnight, but I am pleased with the pace of our car in these difficult conditions and we are doing all we can to recover the places lost early on. The night-time period is always the toughest but the team is working well and we will continue to push hard.”
Franck Mailleux and the Morand Racing team are battling back up through the field after difficult, drizzly weather conditions caused the Frenchman to spin on the second lap, dropping the Morgan Judd down the LMP2 order. Franck returned to action at 21:00 picking up from where his team-mates Natacha Gachnang and Olivier Lombard left off.
Conditions in the early stages did not necessitate wet weather tyres but the slippery track surface caught Franck out on the opening lap following a good start to the race. He rejoined the race in 21st overall and 12th in LMP2.
A serious incident on the second lap, which ended with the terribly sad news of the death of the driver involved, brought out the safety car for much of the first hour. Franck was running ninth in class, and reporting flat spots on his tyres as a result of the spin.
At the one hour mark, Franck handed over the reins of the Morgan Judd LMP2 to Natacha Gachnang who resumed the race down in 43rd overall. She made up ground quickly with a solid triple stint that saw her run until after the 3h30 point, when she handed over to Olivier Lombard, who also had a positive triple stint.
The race strategy to triple stint has allowed the team to climb into 19th overall after six hours and in the top ten in LMP2 as they attempt to claw back the lost positions. As the night time conditions set in, the team has lots of work to do but plenty of optimism.
Franck commented: “The conditions were not easy, as they haven’t been all week, with rain in places but not others making it hard to build consistency and rhythm. The slippery track caught me out on the second lap and I lost a lot of places when I spun at Tertre Rouge. There was nothing I could do in the conditions, which were extremely difficult to judge. We have fought back since that early setback but it’s going to require us to dig deep and keep focussed. Natacha and Olivier had a good triple stint and we are in the top 20, so we are making progress but there is a long way still to go.”
Franck Mailleux has this morning concluded his final preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is set to get underway at 15.00 this afternoon.
Franck, together with his Morand Racing team-mates, carried out 8 laps around the 13.6km La Sarthe circuit in the 45-minute warm-up session to run some important system checks on the Morgan Judd LMP2 car to finalise their package ahead of this afternoon’s start.
The team also used the opportunity to practice the driver change procedures that will be an all-important element of the 24 hour race, although the session was red-flagged with four minutes remaining due to an on-track incident.
The starting procedure gets underway at 14.22 but all eyes will be on the weather which was cloudy during warm-up although with significant cloud cover. Franck will be on starting duties for the Morand Racing team from fourth in LMP2.
Franck said: “I’m pleased with how our final preparations have gone today and we are ready to go racing. The weather conditions were dry this morning but we know from this week just how unsettled things can become. Thankfully, we have plenty of laps behind us in a variety of conditions, even if our dry running this week has been limited. The atmosphere, as always, has been incredible and I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel in the race.”
Franck Mailleux has spent the day off from track action at Le Mans to continue his pre-race preparations with Morand Racing but he has also joined his team-mates Natacha Gachnang and Olivier Lombard for the traditional drivers’ parade in town.
The event, which sees all teams and drivers embark on a promotional tour through downtown Le Mans, is one of the best opportunities for Le Mans fans to get close to their heroes ahead of the legendary Le Mans race, which celebrates its 90th anniversary tomorrow.
For Franck, the drivers’ parade is one of the highlights of the Le Mans week and even after four previous participations, the feelings of excitement still remain on the eve of such a special event. Franck and Morand Racing will start tomorrow’s race from fourth in LMP2 after solid qualifying practice sessions in tricky track conditions.
Franck said: “Friday is always a day of final preparations for teams and drivers but it also marks one of the best moments of the week as we join the famous drivers’ parade. It is amazing to get so close to the fans as we parade through the town to celebrate the commencement of the main event, the 24 Hours race which starts tomorrow afternoon. The passion these fans show is unprecedented and is one of the main things that spur us drivers on over a gruelling 24 Hours. We look forward to similar support throughout the race and, personally, I hope to translate our fourth place on the LMP2 grid into a podium result by Sunday afternoon.”
Franck Mailleux and the Morand Racing team will start this weekend’s 90th anniversary Le Mans 24 Hours race from fourth in LMP2 after another interrupted day of running at the La Sarthe circuit.
More inclement weather conditions met the teams and drivers in the opening qualifying practice session, which prevented anyone from improving lap times compared to yesterday’s dry session. Franck completed just one exploratory lap in today’s first qualifying session as the mixed track conditions, which saw two thirds of the track wet and the other third dry, made for complicated driving conditions.
This evening’s session was extended to 2h30 after a red flag in the first qualifying practice cut short running time. With the 13.6km track drying out all the time, it was looking to be a real fight to the finish for the overall best qualifying time of the week but a combination of yellow flags and traffic affected Franck’s final attempts at pole position. Nonetheless, his impressive lap from Wednesday still stood as the fourth quickest LMP2 time of the three qualifying sessions and the Morand Racing team will be starting Saturday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with the podium well in their sights.
It has been a disruptive week of Le Mans action so far with a total of six red flag periods over the four timed sessions but it will all be good practice for the Morand Racing team as they look to prepare for any eventuality for this weekend’s race. The lack of dry weather running will be an issue that all teams will have to prepare for but thankfully Morand Racing and Franck Mailleux have plenty of experience of Le Mans which will prove invaluable if conditions continue to be unpredictable. Starting from fourth in class, the team will be hoping to continue their recent strong performances from the European Le Mans Series into the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Franck Mailleux said: “It was another really tricky day here at Le Mans but ultimately I think we can be satisfied with fourth in class and 12th overall. We had a good result yesterday and I am pleased with the performances that I have put in considering the changeable weather conditions. Today’s opening session was a write-off because of the weather and the fact it was cut short because of a red flag. In the extended second session, we were able to get more running but it was still intermittent because of red flags and then lots of traffic later on. As the track dried, everyone was trying to make improvements but there were just too many yellow flags and a lot of traffic which made it impossible to get a clear lap. We tried our hardest but eventually our time from yesterday remained our best and was still good enough for fourth in class. This position gives us a good chance to fight for a class podium but it is an arduous race so we have to work hard to make sure we have the best strategy and to ensure we get everything out of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car and ourselves. We are heading into the final pre-race build-up and we have lots to discuss, although I am confident in our car and the Dunlop tyres, and I am very motivated for the race. We have the drivers’ parade tomorrow which is also something I always look forward to.”
Morand Racing driver Franck Mailleux has set the second best time in LMP2 in the first qualifying session at Le Mans, securing the team an overall top ten place after the opening day of track action.
Intermittent rain conditions and red flags resulted in an interrupted first day of free practice and qualifying for teams on Wednesday as they prepare for this weekend’s 90th anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The four-hour opening practice at the La Sarthe circuit was significantly affected by mixed weather conditions with a combination of wet, damp and drying track conditions preventing teams and drivers from completing much meaningful running in the late afternoon session. Nonetheless, the Morand Racing team amassed 16 laps in the first session even if the lap times were not representative of their true potential with the session also being stopped early due to a red flag.
The team embarked on their technical set-up work with the Dunlop-shod Morgan Judd LMP2 car in the changeable conditions but without compromising their focussed approach for the 24 Hour race, which starts on Saturday afternoon.
The two hour qualifying practice in the late evening was held in dry conditions with drivers endeavouring to complete the mandatory five laps to qualify themselves for the race. Another red flag period brought the session to an early end but Franck completed his required laps and registered the second quickest time in LMP2, a best lap of 3m40.741s.
Franck Mailleux commented: “We completed a total of 32 laps today which was quite an achievement considering the changing weather conditions in the first session and the fact that both sessions were cut short due to red flags. It wasn’t an easy day but we completed the required five laps in night-time conditions this evening and set a decent time to place us in the top ten overall and second in class. There is plenty more work to be done which is what we will use tomorrow’s two sessions. We had the chance to look at the car’s performance in wet, damp and dry conditions today so that was useful and the team is definitely pulling in the right direction. The atmosphere here at Le Mans is buzzing and I am looking forward to our progress in tomorrow’s two qualifying practice sessions.”
The 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours has begun in earnest for Franck Mailleux and the Morand Racing team as they attended the compulsory scrutineering on Monday morning.
Scrutineering is a popular part of the Le Mans week, which marks the formal start of the week-long schedule of activities and which allows motorsport enthusiasts to get close to the vehicles and the teams.
All aspects of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car went through the rigorous checking process at Place de la République this morning.
Three major areas are covered during the session as a team of controllers assess the legalities of each participating car. From the dimensions – length, width, wheelbase, weight, height – to the aerodynamics to the safety elements of the car, nothing is left unchecked.
Once a car has passed the detailed inspection, official Le Mans 24 Hours stickers are put on the car to confirm its entry into the prestigious Le Mans race, which this year marks its 90th anniversary.
The next event on the busy drivers’ schedule is the official autograph session that takes place on Tuesday afternoon before the first track session on Wednesday.
Endurance ace Franck Mailleux is hoping to make a sensational return to the Le Mans podium as he competes in this year’s 24 Hour race, the 90th anniversary of the legendary event, with Morand Racing.
Mailleux, who finished second in the LMP2 category at Le Mans just two years ago, will be looking to capitalise on the potential of the team’s Morgan Judd LMP2 package which heralded a podium result at the last round of the European Le Mans Series at Imola last month.
The recent official test day enabled the team to focus on the set-up of their Dunlop-shod car with all three drivers completing valuable mileage despite inclement weather and a trio of red flag periods during the day.
This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours commemorates the 90th anniversary of the famous motorsport event which continues to play an important role on the international motorsport calendar, as demonstrated by the number of high profile participating drivers and teams.
The field will be one of the most competitive ever putting a premium on team preparations, pace and reliability over the gruelling 24-hour period. Nonetheless, the Morand Racing team will be looking to put its combined experience to good use, while Franck Mailleux himself will be taking part in his fifth Le Mans 24 Hours this year, ensuring a potent combination.
Franck will be sharing the cockpit of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 with his ELMS team-mate Natacha Gachnang as well as his 2012 Le Mans team-mate Olivier Lombard. The result from Le Mans will not count towards the team’s ELMS classification, in which they are currently in sixth place courtesy of the third place finish at Imola, and regulations will permit the team to race with a new engine at Le Mans. The team will be looking to complete final preparations during the practice and qualifying sessions to make sure that it can mount a fight for the LMP2 podium in the toughest race of the year.
Franck Mailleux said: “There is always an air of expectation, anticipation and excitement in the build-up to Le Mans but that feels even more intense this year with the 90th anniversary. I am really pleased to be a part of the Morand Racing team for this incredible event and we hope to continue the positive form that we have shown in the first two races of the European Le Mans Series. We have a quick car in the Morgan Judd LMP2, a good tyre partner with Dunlop and I am happy to share the driving duties with Natacha and Olivier, so we have plenty of reason to be optimistic. Of course, Le Mans is an arduous event with a lot of work to do during the week, both on track and off, but I love every aspect of the event. I will be looking forward particularly to the support of the crowd, who really deliver a special atmosphere to Le Mans each year. We have carried out a lot of important work and were able to get some valuable running at the recent test so there is no reason why we can’t set our sights on the podium. I am confident in our package and we will do all we can to realise our goal.”
Morand Racing driver Franck Mailleux has drawn positive conclusions from the recent Official Test Day in preparation for the forthcoming Le Mans 24 Hours despite weather conditions and red flags interrupting the team’s programme.
Franck, who was joined by his 2013 Le Mans team-mates Natacha Gachnang and Olivier Lombard for the test, will be taking part in his fifth Le Mans 24 Hours and declared himself confident with the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 package and Dunlop tyres.
Rain left the track wet for the morning session while three separate red flag periods made for a disjointed day of running. Morand Racing was focussed on its own particular programme of technical analysis, aerodynamic evaluation and Dunlop tyre work and finished the day with valuable data even with the limited running.
QUICK Q+A WITH FRANCK MAILLEUX
Franck, what is your analysis of the official test day at Le Mans?
“Generally, I think we achieved what we set out to by focussing on our own technical programme and completing some valuable laps. We looked at the set-up of the Morgan Judd LMP2, working also on aero and tyres, but it wasn’t the easiest of test days. The track was wet for the entire morning session and, like everyone else, we had to contend with three red flags during the day. It made things a bit difficult but we did salvage some important things from the day.”
What is the main focus when preparing the car for Le Mans?
“The great thing about Le Mans is that you cannot leave anything untouched. Every part of the car and the entire team operation is put under scrutiny so we like to get as much track time as possible. When we are limited to just one day of testing on the full 13.6km track, we want to be on track all day, which is why the interruptions were not ideal. We look at the base set-up of the car, the aerodynamic package and the tyres but also system checks and team-work in the garage which plays such an important role over the 24 hour race.”
What are realistic expectations from Morand Racing based on the times in the test?
“We were not really chasing lap time at the test because of the nature of our programme, which was focussed on improving the set-up of the car. I am quite confident in our package, both in terms of the car, the engine, the tyres and our team composition, so we have to aim to be in the podium fight. That is always the objective, even if we know the competition in LMP2 is incredibly tough this year.”
Franck Mailleux and the Morand Racing team have carried out a busy day of testing around the La Sarthe circuit today joining 60 other vehicles on track to prepare for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Morand Racing team stuck to a firm programme of car evaluation looking at the full Morgan Judd LMP2 package in order to prepare every aspect of the car and team performance before the big event gets underway with scrutineering beginning next Sunday.
With the focus on car set-up and not going for an outright lap time, the team has managed to learn some useful information from today’s communal test day, the only opportunity to gain experience of the full La Sarthe track before practice begins in just over a week’s time.
However, the weather has played an important role with the morning session held in completely wet conditions. Nonetheless, Franck got some valuable laps under his belt this morning as the team used the opportunity to adapt the car to the wet track conditions.
The only downside to the morning activities was an off-track excursion for Olivier Lombard which necessitated some repair work in the pit garage. Still, the team completed 28 laps in the morning and were back on track in the afternoon thanks to some excellent work by the Morand Racing crew.
Unfortunately two additional red flag periods in the afternoon caused a disjointed afternoon’s running but all three drivers – Franck, Olivier Lombard and Natacha Gachnang – accumulated 33 more laps as they turned their attention to dry weather set-up work, aerodynamic evaluation and the all-important work with tyre supplier Dunlop.
Franck Mailleux commented: “Firstly, it has been a joy to drive this fantastic circuit once more. It is a huge privilege to be at Le Mans once again. It hasn’t been the smoothest of days for us with the three red flags disrupting our programme. We have been deliberately focussing on our technical programme today, making full use of this one chance we have before the event to test on the full La Sarthe track. The wet conditions this morning allowed us to gain information in the event we face similar weather during the race week, while we had some running in the dry this afternoon in which we could look at the set-up of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2, aero configuration, and work with Dunlop. This has been useful and I think that, as a team, everything is coming together nicely. We are focussing on our own programme and making good progress. I am sure we have a competitive package and I can’t wait to come back in a week’s time to get started properly.”
French driving sensation Franck Mailleux will be joining Morand Racing this Sunday for the official test day in preparation for the forthcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The one day test will provide all teams and drivers with the sole opportunity to test their race cars and technical packages around the 13.6km La Sarthe track ahead of the Le Mans event which takes place on 22-23 June.
Much of the course is made up of public roads, so this Sunday’s session will give teams an important opportunity to put the car through its paces around the demanding circuit and sharing the track with all participants in this year’s event, which will mark the 90th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the fifth time that Franck has contested the renowned event.
Franck will be sharing testing duties in the #43 Dunlop-shod Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 with Natacha Gachnang, with whom Franck celebrated a podium at the recent 3 Hours of Imola, and recently announced driver for Le Mans, Olivier Lombard.
Having led the Silverstone event back in April and finishing third at Imola last time out, Franck will be hoping to compete for the top three at Le Mans despite the competitiveness of the Le Mans field. This Sunday’s test will give the team a first indication of their relative performance before the event gets underway in earnest in two weeks’ time.
Franck Mailleux commented: “The month of June is very exciting for us racers because all of our efforts are focussed on Le Mans, the undisputed highlight of the season. The first stage in the long and detailed preparation process is this Sunday’s official test day; it will be the only chance that we get to understand the car around the complete course before the first official practice session and to see how we line up against the opposition. It is always a great build-up to this incredible event and it will be even more special this year with the 90th anniversary. Together with the Morand Racing team, I have had a reasonably competitive start to the ELMS season with a podium at Imola, but Le Mans 24 Hours is a very different event and one which requires precision and reliability, as well as speed and competitiveness, so we have a lot of work ahead of us on Sunday to get off to a strong start, as long as the weather also remains on our side!”
Franck Mailleux scored his first podium of the season at last weekend’s 3 Hours of Imola race as the Morand Racing team continued their impressive performance from the opening round of the season in which they confidently led.
Franck was able to translate sixth place on the starting grid into a comfortable third place in the race thanks to some sublime driving around the Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari, negotiating tricky traffic and opening the podium account for the team with the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car.
The third place result, following on from the team’s eye-opening performance at Silverstone, will set high expectations for a podium challenge at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, were you pleased to score third place at Imola?
“It’s always a great feeling to stand on the podium against tough competition but it was particularly special to score my first podium with Morand Racing, with whom I have only recently started to work. It was a busy race weekend but in the end the performance of the Morgan Judd LMP2, Dunlop tyres and the team shone through and we were able to battle for the podium. I had a positive, competitive double stint in the first half of the race, getting us up into third place, before handing over to Natacha, who was able to maintain our place.”
What challenges did you face over the course of the weekend?
“The European Le Mans Series is a competitive series and we have to compete against some tough competition so we have to make sure that we race at the peak of our ability. Free practice was held in mixed weather conditions and I wasn’t able to do a pre-qualifying run on new tyres in Friday afternoon’s practice session because of a red flag. That had a knock-on effect to qualifying itself and I wasn’t able to get a clean lap. However, even starting from sixth, I knew my race pace would be good, and so it proved.”
What’s next on the schedule for you?
“Our attention now turns to the famous Le Mans 24 Hours and all the important preparation that has to go into that legendary event. The next big test will be 9 June for the official test day at the La Sarthe track. We will face huge competition for this event, as every year, so we have to make sure we plan carefully and look at every aspect of the car’s performance. Le Mans is an exciting and emotional event for us drivers and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve.”
French racer Franck Mailleux has returned to the endurance podium in a thrilling battle around the Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari in Imola this afternoon.
Franck, driving the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car with Natacha Gachnang, translated a sixth place starting position on the grid into a tremendous third place at the chequered flag with a masterful display of driving.
The race got off to a sterling start for Franck has he made up a place on the opening lap. He continued to find a good rhythm as he moved into third place after a fantastic double stint that once again showed his competitive pace in the Dunlop-shod Morgan Judd LMP2.
Franck handed over to Natacha Gachnang at the halfway mark in third place. Some light rain started to fall in places around the circuit which made for eventful opening to her stint. Nonetheless, she was able to continue to tour in fourth with an eye still on the podium places.
Natacha continued to show strong pace and benefitted when the car in front had to pit for a stop-go penalty after a pit lane infringement. Back in the podium positions, where they belonged, Natacha was able to finish the race with third place secured.
Pleased with his own performance and the end result, Franck said: “What an afternoon of racing! I am so pleased that we have been able to finish on the podium here in Imola and to celebrate the first top three result with the Morand Racing team. It’s been a busy weekend and not always easy with lots of traffic to negotiate on track and a lot of hard work. But the end result has been very worth all of our collective effort. I am pleased for the team that we are able to celebrate our first podium together and I am thankful to them for their big effort. I felt that my double stint went very well and I was able to show the sort of race pace that I have known we were capable of. We led the race at Silverstone and have now shown our ability to score a podium so this has to be the target for Le Mans, our next big challenge and I can’t wait!"
French endurance racer Franck Mailleux will be returning to track action at Imola this weekend for the second round of this season’s European Le Mans Series.
The race will act as the prelude to the Le Mans 24 Hours and will bring together an increased grid of 28 cars across all four categories with Franck once again joining the LMP2 class with the Morand Racing squad.
Franck will arrive at Imola boosted by a strong showing at the opening race of the year at Silverstone last month in which he led the race for the opening hour. The Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car demonstrated its pace against tough competition, something that Franck and the team will hope continues at Imola.
Franck last raced at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari back in 2011 when he was competing in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup so he will be able to hit the ground running in opening free practice on Friday morning. The circuit underwent significant modernisation in the late 2000s with its nine right-hand and 13 left-hand turns over an anti-clockwise 4.909km lap offering a technical challenge for drivers and teams alike.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
What are your thoughts looking towards the second round of the season at Imola?
“It is good to be going to Imola, a circuit that I enjoy but one at which I haven’t raced for a few years. The opening race of the season at Silverstone was one of mixed feelings but ultimately there were a lot of positives. It was our first race together with Morand Racing and we showed our capabilities to lead the race, even if we were unfortunate to retire in the difficult weather conditions. We go to Imola with the knowledge that we work well as a team and that the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car and Dunlop tyres is a competitive package. We certainly expect the weather to be better at Imola with hotter conditions currently forecast.”
What are the particular nuances of the Imola track?
“Imola is a challenging track and a technical one, both in terms of its anti-clockwise layout and the combination of corner types. When I drove at Imola previously, back in 2011, I finished on the podium and that will be my target again this weekend. It’s an enjoyable track and satisfying to get right so we will be looking to make the most of our time in practice to find a good set-up with the car and tyres and hope for better weather than we had at Silverstone!”
French endurance racer Franck Mailleux was denied the chance to compete for glory at last weekend’s 3 Hours of Silverstone having superbly led the opening race of the season for much of the first hour thanks to a brilliant team strategy.
The Silverstone circuit was hit by heavy rain, which ultimately brought Saturday afternoon’s race to an early conclusion with a lengthy safety car period followed by a red flag. For Franck, though, the race was over just before the one-third race distance when, while leading, he hit standing water and aquaplaned helplessly into the tyre barrier.
In the conditions, Franck was unable to rejoin the race and registered a disappointing DNF, but in his maiden race with the Morand Racing squad, there were plenty of positives to take from the weekend. The team made an excellent strategic call at the start of the race to put Franck on full wet weather tyres, setting him up to lead the race until his unavoidable retirement. Franck now gears up for a full ELMS programme in the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car.
Franck, obviously a disappointing result but a positive weekend nonetheless…?
“Yes, it was a frustrating – and early – end to our Silverstone 3 Hours but with plenty of positives to take forward as we prepare for Imola. Firstly, I was pleased to be confirmed as race driver for Morand Racing for the complete ELMS campaign at the start of the weekend and to have the opportunity to get a feel for the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 in competitive conditions. We are still in the early stages of our new partnership so it was encouraging to be battling at the sharp end, to lead the race and to show that we will be contenders in ELMS this season.”
How difficult is it to adapt to changing weather conditions like we saw at Silverstone?
“For the first race of the season, especially when still getting to grips with a new car and tyres, it is preferable to have consistent conditions, rather than the wet-dry-wet that we had at Silverstone. It is the same situation for everybody but Saturday’s race was just one of those things. The team made an exceptional call to pit me early for full wet tyres and that enabled me to lead the race. When you are setting the pace in wet conditions it’s tough but I felt comfortable and competitive which is why it was such a shame to aquaplane out of the race. It was still a positive weekend, and a good team experience, but I definitely hope for better in Imola.”
Difficult wet conditions brought an early end to the 3 Hours of Silverstone for French driver Franck Mailleux as his Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car aquaplaned out of the lead of the race just before the one hour mark.
It was an action packed first race of the European Le Mans Series with rain meaning that drivers had to pit for wet weather tyres and making for tricky conditions on the 5.791km Silverstone circuit.
Having completed the first laps of the weekend in mixed weather conditions during Friday’s free practice session, Franck was on qualifying duties on a dry track for his debut race with the Morand Racing team this morning. Although he did not get a clear lap, he still registered the fifth best time of the session.
Rain started to fall during the formation lap so Morand Racing made an astute call to pit Franck on the first lap for full wet weather tyres straight away. That decision proved decisive as the rain intensified. Franck initially took the lead and he became embroiled in a thrilling battle with Brendon Hartley. Franck took back the lead when Hartley made a trip to the gravel, and subsequently increased his advantage over the field. Franck was mastering the wet well but he was unable to do anything when his car aquaplaned down the straight in the torrential conditions and took him into the tyre barriers, agonisingly out of the race.
Franck, who was yesterday confirmed as a Morand Racing driver for the entire 2013 ELMS season, will take positives from the performance of the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car this weekend as he looks to the next round of the season at Imola in May.
Franck Mailleux commented: “I am devastated to have had to retire from this afternoon’s race after leading the race in the first hour and I am sorry to the team for not being able to salvage the car. The Morand Racing team made the best decision to pit me early for wet weather tyres and that instinct enabled us lead the race so I am disappointed with the outcome. The Morgan Judd LMP2 has been great to drive this weekend; I was just caught out with unavoidable aquaplaning in the very wet and difficult conditions which ended our race. The wet weather made it tough and I wasn't the only one to run into trouble but unfortunately I wasn't able to get back out on track. Nevertheless, it’s the first race of the ELMS season and there are plenty of positives to take from it in spite of the result. Thanks to the Morand Racing team for all their support in our first race together and I look forward to making progress at the next race.”
French racer Franck Mailleux will remain with the Morand Racing team for the duration of the 2013 European Le Mans Series following his impressive performances in the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car in pre-season testing.
Franck was already signed up to take part in this weekend’s 3 Hours of Silverstone with the team on the back of his test at Paul Ricard but the team has today confirmed that Franck will remain for the full 2013 campaign, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Morand Racing has been invited to compete at Le Mans with a confirmed entry on the latest entry list with Franck now spearheading the team’s assault on the prestigious race in the LMP2 class, in which he has proven success.
Driving alongside Natacha Gachnang, Franck has already undertaken his first laps of the season in the Dunlop-shod LMP2 car with seven laps completed of the 5.791km track in this morning’s damp practice session and a further 18 laps in this afternoon’s wet-dry session.
Franck will be hoping to secure a podium finish in Saturday afternoon’s three-hour race to kick-start what promises to be a positive partnership between him and Morand Racing this season.
Franck said: “I am overjoyed that Morand Racing has signed me for the complete 2013 season and thankful to them for showing faith in my abilities. After an uncertain winter period, it was great to be given the opportunity to test for the team at Paul Ricard in March and to be driving at Silverstone this weekend, but it is even better to have a complete season programme ahead of us. It was great news for the team to be included on the Le Mans entry list, and I am excited at the prospect of my fifth Le Mans 24 Hours. First, though, our focus is on tomorrow’s Silverstone race. It has been a wet start to our preparations today but I am sure we will be competitive with the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car and we look forward with great anticipation to this first race of the season.”
After months of preparation, car development and testing, the 2013 European Le Mans Series finally gets underway next week with the 3 Hours of Silverstone in Great Britain.
French racer Franck Mailleux will be hoping to use the Silverstone event to reaffirm his credentials in competitive endurance racing as he joins Morand Racing at the legendary British race track.
Franck enjoyed a competitive two-day test with Morand at Paul Ricard last week, setting the quickest time on the first day around the 5.791km circuit, a performance that bodes well for the team’s competitiveness in Saturday’s three hour race.
For Franck, the ELMS event marks the start of his fifth consecutive season in endurance racing following stints in the Le Mans Series, Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the FIA World Endurance Championship in the previous four seasons, the highlight of which was when he was crowned ILMC champion with Signatech-Nissan in 2011.
Now, driving a Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car, equipped with Dunlop tyres, Franck hopes to revisit winning ways with a challenge for victory in Saturday’s 3 Hours of Silverstone.
Franck, you must be looking forward to a return to racing at Silverstone?
“I really enjoy racing at Silverstone, one of the classic race tracks even with the recent changes to its layout, but I am looking forward to this year’s event more than ever. It has been a tough winter for me but thanks to Morand Racing for giving me the opportunity to test with them at Paul Ricard, I am able to start my fifth season of competition in endurance racing. Although our partnership is currently for this one race, I hope that I will be able to show my abilities in the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car. It promises to be a fun event.”
How have you acclimatised to the car in a short space of time?
“I was able to quickly get up to a good pace in the car at Paul Ricard, sharing the driving duties with Natacha Gachnang and Kajim Ajlani, and we worked a lot on the set-up of the car with the Dunlop tyres. We were quickest overall on the first day and were in the top two overall after the two days, which is encouraging for Silverstone. I have driven many different types of car in my career to date so I find it quite easy to adapt to whatever car I have to race with. The Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 is a competitive machine and I have high hopes for next weekend. It will be important for me to get a good result for the team and to help with the rest of my 2013 season.”
Following an impressive performance at the official European Le Mans Series test session at Paul Ricard earlier this week, French racer Franck Mailleux has today been confirmed as one of Morand Racing’s drivers for the impending season opener at Silverstone.
Franck will join the team at the first race of the 2013 ELMS championship, a three hour race around the legendary British circuit, driving the Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 car, equipped with Dunlop tyres.
Franck has been racing in endurance championships since 2009 and was crowned champion of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series back in 2011 in the LMP1 class. His performance in testing, which saw him register the second quickest time of the two days, was enough to convince Morand Racing to include Franck in their line-up for Silverstone.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, you must be pleased to be racing at Silverstone in two weeks’ time?
“I am incredibly thankful to the Morand Racing team for giving me the opportunity to test at Paul Ricard earlier this week and to showcase my capabilities in a competitive field. I am grateful to have joined them for the first race of the ELMS season at Silverstone and to be an active participant in endurance racing, even if currently just for one race. I will do everything I can to use my four years of experience at the front of endurance racing to get a good result for the team.”
How do you prepare to race with a new team after just one test session?
“I have been preparing all winter to race even if my circumstances were a little bit unsettled. I kept up my physical training regime over the winter and I felt immediately at home when the team offered me the chance to test this week. The Morand Racing Morgan Judd LMP2 is a quick car and I felt at home straight away, as demonstrated from our competitive pace. It was good to work with the team, their partners and the other drivers, with whom I hope to forge a mutually compatible relationship as we prepare for Silverstone. I am looking forward to returning to racing action.”
Morand Racing Team Partners:
Look Prestige Immobilier, Warson Motors, Motorex Oil, Dunlop, Judd, Onroak Morgan
French endurance racer Franck Mailleux has joined the Morand Racing team for two days of testing at the European Le Mans Series session at Paul Ricard in the south of France this week.
Franck, who is hoping to use the opportunity to secure a more permanent race seat in ELMS this season, impressed the team with his performance behind the wheel of the LMP2 Morand Racing Morgan-Judd, equipped with Dunlop tyres.
Under bright sunny skies on Tuesday, Franck set the quickest time of the day in the afternoon session as focussed on set-up of the LMP2 car around the 5.791km track ahead of the team’s debut in the 2013 ELMS championship at Silverstone in April. His lap would be the second quickest of the entire test.
He continued with the positive work on Wednesday, performing longer runs with the car, as the team added 62 laps to the 83 completed in total on Tuesday.
The conclusion of this test will now allow Franck to explore options for the coming season and hopefully to line up on the grid during 2013 for what would be his fifth consecutive season in endurance racing.
Franck commented: “I was pleased to be joining Morand Racing for the two day test at Ricard this week. It was good of them to give me the chance to test the Morand Morgan-Judd LMP2 and to assist them with Silverstone preparations. I hope to have demonstrated my capability to be competitive in endurance racing, particularly in yesterday’s session when I set the quickest time of the day. I have enjoyed working on the set-up of the car, trying out the Dunlop tyres and conducting long runs alongside the team’s drivers Natacha Gachnang and Kajim Ajlani. It’s been good weather, although the typical Mistral wind has played its usual role at times, and we have completed a lot of laps between us. I thank the team for allowing me to participate and hope that I will be able to announce something about my season in the not too distant future.”
Franck will return to the cockpit of an LMP2 car at Circuit Paul Ricard next week as he joins Morand Racing for two days of testing at the pre-season ELMS test session.
Franck, who is currently without a permanent race seat for the 2013 season, will be hoping to showcase his talent at the wheel of Morand’s Morgan Judd during the test which comes in preparation for the first race of the season at Silverstone.
Franck’s four seasons of endurance racing experience in both LMP1 and LMP2, including his championship-winning season in ILMC with Signatech-Nissan in 2011 will be a significant asset to Morand Racing as they prepare themselves for the forthcoming ELMS season.
Franck said: “I am thrilled to have the chance to join next week’s ELMS test at Paul Ricard and I am grateful to Morand Racing for giving me the opportunity to be part of their pre-season preparations. I look forward to utilising my four years of endurance racing experience to help them prepare their LMP2 car for competition at Silverstone. I have been at the factory for a seat fitting and I was pleased to meet the team, who were very welcoming. I hope that my performances at the test will unlock my 2013 season and lead to a full time race seat somewhere on the endurance grid. I am raring to go and look forward to demonstrating my intent at the test next week.”
Top French racer Franck Mailleux is still confident of finding a full-time race seat for the 2013 season and is actively looking for opportunities in either the World Endurance Championships or European Le Mans Series.
Franck, who has been an integral part of the Signatech endurance team since 2009, had no opportunity to remain with the team for 2013 but is busy finalising his plans for the year ahead with some advanced discussions underway.
The 27-year-old was crowned champion of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup with Signatech-Nissan in 2011 and took part in his fourth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans with the team last year. His four years of experience at the helm of a race and championship winning team makes him a valuable asset to any team in endurance racing.
Quick Q+A with Franck Mailleux
Franck, it must be a frustrating time for you without a seat for the coming season?
“It is not a great situation to be in, that’s absolutely true, but I am still hopeful of finding a solution to my situation. With the experience and results I have built up in the last four seasons, I know I would fit in well with any team looking for results and technical insight. I am still extremely motivated and eager to get back in the cockpit. I’m ready to race!”
How has the winter period been?
“It has been tough because I was hoping and expecting to be continuing in the World Endurance Championship with Signatech-Nissan this year. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities for me with the team. I have not given up and have continued to train hard over the winter, but at the same time recuperate and improve from our 2012 season.”
With just a few weeks from the start of the WEC season, how hopeful are you?
“I adopt the same philosophy out of the car as I do in it; never give up! I am looking forward to the start of the WEC because it promises to be an exciting championship. Of course, I would love to be a part of it, and I remain focussed on trying to find a solution, whether in time for Silverstone or subsequent races. I know what I can deliver, what I am capable of and I hope there is a team who can see it as well. I am actually in discussions with some people which might see me testing at Paul Ricard for a competitive team in the next week so there is still plenty of reason for optimism.”