Aston Martin Racing secured its second podium finish of the Le Mans Series season after a fine drive from Tomas Enge, Stefan Mucke and Jan Charouz saw the #007 Lola Aston Martin come through from the back of the field at Spa.
The car had failed to set a time during qualifying after running into mechanical issues, with the team working through the night to replace the engine ahead of the second 1000km event of the year.
Mucke started the race from the back of the grid, and soon demonstrated an impressive pace to climb through the field and was running in fifth place – behind the sister #009 car – within the first hour.
However, the German didn't have an entirely trouble-free stint as a collision with another competitor damaged the nose of the #007 Aston Martin, affecting the car's handling.
“The damage meant that the underside of the nose was actually moving, which made the handling totally nervous and unpredictable,” Mucke said. “But to come back from the problem of not being able to qualify yesterday and surviving some interesting moments during the race only makes this podium result all the more satisfying. What is clear is that our car is very competitive when we have a clean run, as our ability to move through the traffic showed.”
Jan Charouz – who formed part of the victorious #007 crew at Barcelona – took over for the second stint, during which the damage to the nose was discovered, before handing the car to Enge for the run to the flag.
The Czech driver got into the car with two hours to go when it was running in fourth, but he was able to close up to the leaders under another lengthy safety car period and having moved into third with just 20 minutes left, was able to hold the place to the flag.
“There was some pressure on me in those final laps, for sure,” he reflected. “Our instructions were very clear: with Le Mans so close we did not want to take any risks with the cars. However, I also really wanted to be on the podium. So I pushed as hard as I could while keeping a certain safety margin, and thankfully it had the right result.
“I said from the start that I believed we could put the difficulties we experienced during qualifying behind us with some good team-work and this was proved to be the case today. It just goes to show the strength of our team.”