News
07.05.2011

Summary of the race, from the second hour...

As the runners entered the second hour of the race on lap 25, the team was but 4 seconds away from the Formula Le Mans car ahead. Four laps later the gap had fallen to just 2 seconds, and several quick laps in the 2min17secs brought Phil Keen right up behind the opposing Oreca 09 car.

The battle continued throughout the next 5 laps, before the young driver finally snatched 2nd place from the car in front. A stop/go penalty for an LMP2 car just ahead pushed the team up to 18th place overall.

On lap 43, the leader of the Oreca 09 cars dived into the pits, so the team took the opportunity to jump ahead and lead the class. Two laps later, the car was brought in and Steve Keating took to the wheel. Fuel was added and the team rejoined the race in 2nd place.

Steve chased the 1st place car, just half a lap behind, but lap 53 revealed bad luck that changed the course of the race: Near the back of the circuit, at Pouhon, the car had slid on bits of debris on the outer part of the track, sending the prototype flying into the barrier and damaging the bodywork heavily. After crawling back to the pits, the car was taken into the garage where damage to the suspension and various parts of the car were repaired, whilst a nose cone was replaced. At this point, 36 minutes had been lost in the pits and the team were 14 laps down on the 1st place Formula Le Mans car, running 5th.

The safety cars had been deployed during the chaos, and once new tyres had been fitted, Steve rejoined the race.

A crash from the no.99 Formula Le Mans prototype shortly followed, so Steve pushed even harder to try and get past as the car had severe damage and was taking time in the pits. Surely enough, he began to gain back the lost time, and on lap 85 the opposing Oreca 09 car was released back in the race, with the team only 4 laps down. Steve had found good pace, and produced his fastest times of the weekend during this stint, in the 2min24secs.

On lap 88, John Hartshorne entered the car for the first time of the afternoon, still 4 laps behind the no.99 Formula Le Mans prototype.

John kept a steady pace, and with three quarters of an hour to go, overtook the no.99 car for the last time of the afternoon, placing the car 4th; although still 15 laps behind the leader. The team began to realize at this point however that the opposing Oreca 09 prototypes were too far ahead.

Steve Keating returned to the driver's seat shortly before the checkered flag, and drove the car to the finish line in 4th place.

It was a frustrating race for Neil Garner Motorsport. The team started the weekend well in free practice, and quickly showed evidence of a strong potential to win after the great performance in qualifying. An unfortunate mistake cost the team a lot of time in the pits, which set the car too far back to be able to catch the leader; although a place was taken near the end promoting the team to 4th.

On a more positive note, the team remains delighted to have raced at this historic circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in the Le Mans Series championship, especially alongside the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup cars. The weekend was pleasant, the weather was kind, and the goal is now as ever to prepare for the next race. Everyone opened their eyes again this weekend, learning and discovering ways to progress and win.

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