Motor On Line

GTWCE / Misano
Reportagem: Muriel Belgy
Tech1 Racing

After Imola two weeks ago in Endurance, this weekend the Tech1 Racing team returned to Italian soil to compete in the second round of the GT World Challenge Europe with the Lexus RC F GT3 # 15 in Sprint on the Misano circuit. Aurélien Panis and Thomas Neubauer, entered in the Silver Cup category, contested 3 races. Pole position in qualifying but retirement in race 1 (engine failure). In race 2, starting from the pitlane, the team finished 5th in the Silver Cup (15th overall) and after signing a new pole, the Lexus still had to retire after being hit by a competitor in the last race. A meeting marked by the bad luck but a team, a driver line-up and a car which have shown such a level of performance that the next events can only portend good things.

In free practice, the # 15 Lexus RC F GT3 was at the top of the standings, setting the fastest time in pre-qualifying and taking pole position overall in the 1st and 3rd qualifying.

On Saturday evening, Thomas Neubauer started from pole position for race 1, ahead of 21 competitors racing in all categories. He took off and brilliantly retained the lead despite Jules Gounon (CMR # 107) attempting to pass him on the 1st corner. Afterwards, the latter kept trying to overtake the polesitter, but Thomas did not give up and hand the car to Aurélien in the lead. But after just one lap in his stint, bad luck invites itself with an engine failure forcing the team to retire the Lexus.

Sunday morning was marked by Thomas Neubauer's second exploit, signing a new pole for race 3.

Three hours later, Aurélien Panis started Race 2 from the pit-lane (penalty due to an engine change). After two laps he gained three places and was back in 19th position (5th in Silver Cup). Over the following laps, he kept overtaking some rivals. A safety car in the middle of his stint, Aurélien was 4th in the Silver cup category. Shortly after the restart, he had to perform a drive-through, came out of the pits for two laps before handing the car back to Thomas who started his relay in 18th place in the overall classification. He then regularly was the fastest driver on track and, passing under the checkered flag, the duo gained 7 places to finish 5th in the Silver Cup (15th overall).

At 3:00 pm the start was given on the Misano circuit for the final race of the Italian round and Thomas Neubauer was starting in pole position as the day before. He made a perfect start and handed the lead car to Aurélien after 30 minutes of racing. The latter came out of the pits 7th overall and still leading the Silver Cup. But 10 minutes from the end, the Lexus was hit by the Bentley driven N. Panciatici, the race came to an end again for Tech1 Racing...

Simon Abadie - Team-Manager : "We leave Misano with a heavy heart because the team and the drivers have not been rewarded for the incredible work they have done. Thomas was amazing from start to finish by posting not only incredible lap times all weekend, by signing the first two poles of the Lexus in front of the pros, posting the best time on track but also by knowing how to manage the pressure in the race without being destabilized. Aurélien also did a very good job but unfortunately lived through the worst situations of the meeting: engine failure, the start from the pitlane in the second race and his retirement from the last race after being hit by a competitor. Nonetheless, he has, as always, shown that he has a strong mental character and confirmed his great determination to fight whatever the circumstances. I would like to thank my team of engineers and mechanics who made me proud during these 4 days in Italy, they did an enormous job. They worked tirelessly to change an engine overnight and give the drivers a high-performance car the next day in collaboration with the Lexus staff with whom there is total cohesion. We will continue to work before attacking the next event, especially making changes to improve the pit-stop procedure and put everything in place to continue to show that we know how to be the fastest on the track like this weekend. Leaving Italy, I still remain positive because we have the crew, the drivers and the Lexus to win races!"


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