Learning curve for Caterham after mixed Le Mans debut, says Mike Gascoyne
- Credit: Archant
Caterham's Le Mans debut had its moments at the weekend – but Mike Gascoyne is confident more is to come from the Hingham marque.
This year's 24-hour race was overshadowed by the death of Allan Simonsen in the opening minutes, before Allan McNish completed a subdued win for Audi.
Caterham's Tom Kimber-Smith, Eric Lux and Alexander Rossi for Greaves Motorsport's Zytek Nissan came 11th in the LMP2 category, completing 307 laps with 31 stops. Oak Racing clocked 329 laps with 30 stops in their category win.
Caterham hope this year's appearance will be the first of many, with aims to race their own prototype car in future. But for now, Gascoyne acknowledged: 'We've got mixed feelings. It's great for Caterham to be represented in such an iconic race and to get a finish at the first attempt, but naturally it's disappointing that we couldn't have a more competitive finish.
'I'm sure for the future you'll see the name back here and we'll get that competitive finish.'
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He added: 'After qualifying we had high hopes for the race pace in the car. We knew the conditions would be mixed and that proved to be true very early on. Tom put in a good, strong first stint and was able to move up through the field.
'We chose to go on to intermediates and I think that would have paid off for us in the long run, but unfortunately just before the end of Tom's stint we had a suspension issue that meant the car had to spend quite a long time in the garage and we lost a few laps repairing it.
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'Alexander went out and was immediately very, very quick, and was able to pull us back up through the field. Unfortunately, as we were making some progress Eric had a small off under the safety car on cold tyres that cost us a little bit of time. Tom then went out and unfortunately had a suspension issue and then a puncture, which all just added up to too much time lost.
'But you could see from Alexander's long stint in the middle of the night – he drove nearly a four-hour stint at a really great pace, and again later on in the morning – that the car had the pace to finish on the podium in LMP2.'