3 May 2015
WEC: JOTA ‘smashes’ Le Mans dress rehearsal
JOTA Sport enjoyed the perfect start to its Le Mans 24 Hours programme by taking a dominant LMP2 victory in round two of the WEC at Spa-Francorchamps.
JOTA Sport recorded a magnificent LMP2 victory in round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Spa 6 Hours, beating the rest of the field by over a lap at the iconic Ardennes venue.
The trio of Simon Dolan, Mitch Evans and Harry Tincknell swept their Gibson 015S Nissan to JOTA's fourth consecutive podium in the race and its second LMP2 victory at Spa since 2012. The result also allowed JOTA to complete a successful dress rehearsal for the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hours where, next month, it will aims for a second successive class win.
“We came to the WEC race and smashed it!” Dolan erupted, “We are really pleased with the victory and very happy with the Gibson-Nissan. Coming in to the WEC as ELMS regulars, we can possibly view ourselves as the poor relations, so to score such a dominant victory and set the race's fastest lap blows that preconception away!
“We walked all over everybody and made a pretty positive statement and I personally couldn't be happier. Harry and Mitch both did sterling jobs. We knew that the tyres were going to be the deciding factor all the way along, so we were taking it really easy and Dunlop did us proud.”
Tincknell started the Gibson from the third row of the LMP2 grid, the efforts of himself and Dolan having set the combined fifth fastest time in the ten-car field in qualifying, but led the pack by the end of the second lap. Although race officials then deemed the Briton to have made a jump-start, necessitating a drive-through penalty that left him 22secs down on the class leader and in seventh place, Tincknell battled superbly to be back into second place by the time he handed over to Evans on 90mins.
“It was a wild start with cars not forming up side-by-side as we'd been instructed to do [in the drivers' briefing], so I just went for it, like everyone else,” Tincknell reported, “To say I was annoyed to get a penalty is an understatement, but I managed to channel my aggression in the right way.”
Kiwi Evans, enjoying a brilliant JOTA Sport and sportscar race debut, then swept the Gibson in to the LMP2 lead approaching one-third distance – a lead the British team would not relinquish. When he pitted to hand off to Dolan shortly after mid-distance, JOTA had a healthy 88secs advantage and, despite the gentleman driver being pegged back a little, a comfortable cushion remained as Tincknell resumed for his second stint. When the second-placed car suffered a mechanical issue with an hour remaining, it opened the gap back to over a minute-and-a-half , allowing Evans to coast to the chequered flag.
“The retirement of the #26 took the pressure off us, but I think we would still have had their legs,” the GP2 regular insisted, “The race was relatively straightforward - I got into the lead quite early on in my stint and then built up a pretty big lead. The Gibson-Nissan worked really well, allowing me to go at a good pace and I brought it in with a pretty big gap for Simon. Overall, it was a positive three days and it's a great way to go in to next month's 24 Hours.”
JOTA will announce who partners Dolan and Evans at Le Mans later this week, as Tincknell is unavailable for the annual French marathon due to his Nissan NISMO LMP1 WEC programme, which begins at the French classic.
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