COOL Racing heads to Circuit de la Sarthe for its first 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend, as well as the penultimate round of a successful maiden World Endurance Championship campaign for the Swiss team, which has included a debut win at the 4 Hours of Silverstone and a second-place finish at the 6 Hours of Spa driving the Oreca 07-Gibson.
Established in 2017, COOL Racing has enjoyed a rapid rise to the upper echelons of prototype racing, with Le Mans debutants Alex Coigny and Antonin Borga now lining up alongside the most successful LMP2 driver around the famous 13.626km venue, four-time class winner Nicolas Lapierre.
Coigny and Borga began racing with the team in the LMP3 class of Michelin Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans Series in 2017, before making the step up to LMP2 last season having recruited Lapierre, who earlier this year became a shareholder in Spirit of Léman, the company running the team. Consistently one of the best-performing bronze drivers in LMP2, having stood on the WEC and ELMS podiums, Coigny will fulfil his Le Mans dream this weekend.
The team has continued to race in ELMS this year alongside its WEC campaign, with the recent night race at the Le Castellet 240 being a key part of its preparation for the 24 Hours. In addition to two WEC podiums this season, COOL Racing was also on pole for the 4 Hours of Shanghai and Lone Star Le Mans, sitting fifth in the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the 88th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was moved from its traditional June slot to September for just the second time in its storied history, which will likely result in unusual conditions. The longer night and cooler temperatures should result in faster lap times, while the increased risk of rain could create additional strategic challenges.
COOL Racing will also have to adapt to the condensed schedule on its maiden appearance at the legendary race, with four free practice sessions and qualifying all set to take place across the Thursday and Friday. This differs significantly from previous editions of the enduro, where teams were given the Friday off to prepare. The traditional pre-event Test Day has been cancelled, meaning the drivers will have less time track time in the build-up to the race than they would have in previous years.
Alongside its LMP2 entry, COOL Racing’s two Ligier JS P320 cars will compete in the supporting Road to Le Mans races, which act as the fourth meeting in the Michelin Le Mans Cup campaign. The #69 of Maurice Smith and Matt Bell and the #37 of Nicolas Maulini and Édouard Cauhaupé are the two most recent winners in the series and aim to continue that momentum.
Alexandre Coigny, #42 Oreca 07: “Being here is a dream come true and the team is reaping the rewards of four seasons of hard work. This is definitely the race of my life and I really hope that Antonin and I hit our marks as quickly as possible. We have Nico onboard which is a huge help in our preparations, and although we started getting ready a long time ago, it’s now about finalising the details. I’m confident that we have done everything necessary to prepare for this event. Le Mans is just magical and is the dream of any racing driver. Even if this year will not be exactly how we imagined, it remains the 24 Hours of Le Mans and once the Tricolore drops on Saturday at 14:30, the lack of fans will not make any difference.”
Antonin Borga, #42 Oreca 07: “We are very lucky to be able to enter this race, an event that is known all around the world and it’s with the greatest respect and anticipation that I prepared to get out on track at Le Mans. Throughout the 24 hours there will be plenty of incidents, but the pace is incredibly fast, and in many ways, it’s just like consecutive sprint races. We are lucky to be surrounded by a great, well-prepared team and we’ll do the best we can. It’s a delight to be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I cannot wait to see the Tricolore being waved on Saturday.”
Nicolas Lapierre, #42 Oreca 07: “I’m delighted to return to Le Mans at last, and we are so happy that the race is taking place. We’re aware that conditions will be a bit peculiar, but nonetheless it’s a relief that the race will go ahead. This edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be complicated for the team on its debut as there was no official test day and the programme is extremely condensed. This will make things more difficult, but our objective is to learn from the experience, finish the race, enjoy the event and do the best we can.”
Source. Cool Racing