Arriving straight off the Monza podium, Rui rejoined his Inter Europol Competition team after a long break at Le Castellet in the south of France.
The young trio of Andrade, Caldwell and Aberdein had a strong run in the lead-up to the race despite the sweltering heat. Olli was dedicated to qualifying the car and put the #43 Oreca 07 LMP2 car on the second row of the grid, setting a superb lap only 0.49 s off the pole position time.
Rui took the wheel for the start on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the rolling start caused some confusion in the front and Rui tumbled down the order to P6 in the opening lap.
He was pushing hard to climb all the way back but a contact with the #35 LMP3 car halted his charge as he was hit with a drive-through penalty.
Caldwell took over the wheel in P7. The Brit completed a strong double stint, battling his way back up in the order. A well-timed Safety car around the halfway mark of the 4-hour race also worked in the team’s favour.
Jonathan got in the car for the final leg and he delivered. The South African driver carved his way up to fourth overall, challenging third-placed Déletraz all the way down the finish line.
They still managed to grab P3 in LMP2, scoring the team’s first podium of the 2023 ELMS season, leaving Le Castellet with a good haul of points.
“The start was difficult. Then there was the contact, and that lost downforce. And it was all about surviving to the end of the stint. My teammates took over, and we were fortunate to have a safety car at that point. Olli and Jonathan did a great job recovering at the end and getting points to compensate for those we lost in Barcelona. But a good result, and now we need to see how we can further improve for Aragón.”
Maria Catarineu, Commercial Director,, Bullet Sports Management:
“A tough race, but another podium finish for Rui. The combination of the extreme heat, the tyre wear, and the penalty would have been enough to hinder the 43 crew’s performance, but they championed through the race nevertheless and claimed a well-deserved podium. It is fascinating and pleasing to witness Rui’s progress and watch him standing on the podium week after week.
The ELMS season continues in a month’s time with the third round at Aragón, Spain.