Almost perfect

18.09.2014

ELMS round 4 brought by far the best results to #98 – second in qualification and third in the race


Kevin with his team-mates Grégoire Demoustier and Yann Goudy had almost perfect race at ELMS round four at Paul Ricard. First, Kevin took P2 in the qualification on the track where top speed is king. Then Yann and Grégoire drove good stints, team serviced the car flawlessly during the pit-stops and when Kevin took the wheel with 50 minutes to go, he was P4, with P3 car about 10 seconds in front. Kevin caught him quite rapidly but overtaking Ferrari proved to be a very different kind of beast. Finally Kevin made an ambitious move into the ultra-fast Signes bend, kept the car under control and first podium in ELMS was a reality. And you can't get over the fact that #98 McLaren was the only non-Ferrari in Top 6.

This is how Kevin himself saw the events roll by.

Can we say now that finally you managed to realize your potential also in ELMS?

Absolutely! With the regulations we have there we lose 15 seconds to Ferraris during every refueling – not during the full pit-stop, but only during the refueling. Having four pit-stops means we lose a full minute only with refueling.

Let's be honest: we were a little bit lucky this time because the #71 Ferrari which finished just behind us had puncture, drive-through penalty plus extra pit-stop due to the puncture – and still they got the flag only two seconds later.

They were P5 with a few laps to go, then they went P4 and got closer and closer towards the end. Did you know they were coming?

Actually, they didn't get closer. From the beginning of my stint until the time I caught #95 Ferrari in P3, the gap remained the same. It was very difficult for me to overtake #95 because our car is slower down the straights and loses under acceleration as well. They can simply block you in the turn and pull away when straight begins. To overtake them you have to brake really late or surprise them in some other way.

You managed to overtake #95 into Signes, an extremely fast right-hand bend at the end of back straight. Is it full-throttle bend for you?

No, we brake and shift down as well. It was a tricky one, I tried to catch his tow down the whole two-kilometer straight, but still couldn't get closer than one tenth. And usually no-one, never overtakes through the inside at Signes, because there is lots of marbles off the racing line. So I thought: "OK, we have only something like four laps to go, #71 is getting closer, now I must overtake him, if I don't, I can't get onto the podium." I took the risk and succeeded, but this was a really risky move. I was almost sure car will go wide or something but it slowed down and stayed on the track.

Your team-mates made almost perfect stints and car stayed in one piece as well.

Yes, no-one made a single mistake, it was mega-positive.

You managed to do some sub-two minutes laps, was there a chance to do the fastest lap?

I guess this time I had a fourth-best lap-time or something. 1:58.8 was the best one, I did 1:59.3 on my first or second flying lap.

In Paul Ricard you achieved almost maximum but what can you expect from the final ELMS round?

As we can see, we have had four rounds and BoP has not been helpful for us. This time I guess we lost about a minute to the winners (actually it was 1.25) and if you deduct four times 15 seconds we lose during refueling... Everything went mega-perfect for us this time and others were not that perfect, so we could have even won. But refueling has been like this from the beginning of the season and when it has stayed so for four races it is not likely going to change.

You managed to take P2 in qualifying, it was a magnificent achievement taking BoP into account.

It was definitely the best qualification I have had. In Austria there were no such long straights, gaps were smaller and I was still second. This time I beat our another car #99 by a full second, it was rather good.

Did you get the tow down the straights?

No I didn't. Actually you don't gain that much in the slipstream, maybe a tenth. I was on my own and just put a good lap together.

Have you noticed you are P5 with your team-mates in points standings? And #99 is P4 with only three more points.

Ha-ha, I haven't look at the standings. I knew we were P8 or something before the race. But definitely we have nothing to win in these series, I just try to drive as well as I can and achieve as good positions as possible in qualification. Two successive second places are not bad.

Next race is already this weekend – Blancpain Endurance Series' 1000 kms at Nürburgring.

Let's say I already want to drive! We have a very good team of drivers, Kévin Estre will perhaps qualify the car as he has driven about 2000 laps at the track. Main concern is the weather, I hope it will be dry. We have had one wet practice day at Silverstone and Audis beat us by a few seconds per lap there. But it can always rain at Nürburgring.

Then, we should be able to win there, if only we will have a good BoP.

You have also won there before.

Yeah, but not with a GT car. Compared to a single-seater it is a little bit different everywhere. On the other hand I know the track well and I have no doubt my team-mates will perform strongly. Just BoP and weather...

Everything will be new again and let's see.

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