Strong race ends early for Racing Experience in Le Mans Cup opener
Luxembourg-based team Racing Experience were on course for a strong result in the season opener of the Michelin Le Mans cup, before a gearbox issue forced the team to retire from a points-scoring position.
Having scored their best result of last season at the track, the family-run outfit was looking to kick off their second season in the championship with another early haul of points.
Team debutant and bronze driver, Yury Wagner, was responsible for qualifying the car. Wagner was running in P12 during qualifying and on course to record his best lap of the day when the session was red-flagged due to a car stopped on track.
The frenetic start was handled well by Wagner, who retained twelfth position in the first lap and avoided the contact around him, managed the early safety car period and progressed through the pack as a number of cars pitted with damage from the action-packed opening laps.
By the close of his stint, Wagner had raced the no. 11 machine to P5, but found himself coming under pressure from behind with out of position cars working their way forward. Wagner pitted for the first of two mandatory pit stops in P8, handing the car to teammate Gary Hauser.
Racing resumed with Hauser rejoining the action in P9. The silver driver continued his form of last season and had raced his Duqueine M30 to P7 as he pitted for the team’s secondary pit stop of the race, but as the race ticked into its second hour, a gearbox issue forced Hauser to retire the car, just 15 laps into his stint.
The early pace shown by the independent team is encouraging as they look ahead to the next round of the championship in three weeks at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – considered the home race for the Hauser family.
Christian Hauser, team principal Racing Experience, said: “While retiring the car is always a bitter pill to swallow, we can feel optimistic about our overall pace. Once again, we were battling at the front end of the grid with much bigger teams and a DNF does not reflect the overall race performance. It was a tricky day for us, with a very late additional pit stop being mandated for all teams, meaning a last-minute change in strategy, but the team did everything perfectly. Yury did a great job in his first race and Gary was on course to bring the car home in a serious points-scoring position. I’m sad for him that he missed out on a lot of great racing, but we will look forward now to competing at our home track next month and a fresh opportunity to score points.”
Gary Hauser, Racing Experience driver said: “It’s so frustrating to have a strong race ended by something that is out of our control. The race was going perfectly. Yury had a great first stint and our pit stops had been perfect. The team did an amazing job. We were looking good for a strong result in the top third of the pack, but we had a gearbox issue and I had to retire. I was really enjoying my racing and very happy with our pace. I am disappointed today of course but looking forward to making up for it at the next race in Spa.”
Yury Wagner, Racing Experience driver said: “I really enjoyed my first race. There was a lot to learn but the team did a great job all weekend. It was a shame that the qualifying session was cut short because I was on course to set my fastest lap and start a little higher up the grid, but that’s racing. It was a crazy start, but I was pleased to hold my position and then settle in and build a gap. There is always lots of contact in this category and I focused on keeping the racing clean and looking after the car, so I could hand over to Gary in a good position. It is a shame to retire but we can be proud as a team of how we managed the race until that point. I can’t wait to get back in the car again soon.”
The next race of the championship will take place at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 8.