It hasn’t been the easiest weekend for IDEC Motorsport and it hasn’t been anything to do ontrack at the European Le Mans Series visit to Spa Francorchamps.
It has to do with run of bad luck for the team’s regular drivers in the #27 Ligier JSP217. Aurélien Panis had been slated to take over the seat of William Cavailhes with the Frenchman’s debut coming after a career in single seaters. Like Harrison Newey before him, he will have to get used to driving with a roof over his head.
But more disruption was to come with the withdrawal of two of the regular drivers for the team in Paul and Patrice Lafargue.
“The biggest disappointment for the team this weekend was with Paul Lafargue. He was doing the whole season but he has had an injury on his back and it has forced him to withdraw at the last minute. We have had to find a replacement for him,” said team manager, Nicolas Minassian.
“It is difficult when you have a team and a driver with a good performance and change everything at the last minute. I am hoping Paul will recover fast and we have brought in Gabriel Aubry into the team. He has been testing and did well and his integration into the team is very good.”
“In the Ligier, Patrice was supposed to drive but he is looking after his son so I have taken the seat in the car.”
The Spa special weather – being quite wet has made things a little harder but the drivers have come on well, found their pace.
It helps when you have one of the most experienced drivers – as in Minassian as the team manager who is ready and willing to jump back behind the wheel.
Which he has done and is leading the effort in the Ligier for this race, alongside regular driver, Erik Maris and Panis.
The other IDEC entry – the Oreca has regular drivers, Memo Rojas and Paul Loup Chatin with Aubry taking the third spot.
For Minassian, preparation has been the key, a pre race test do bed in the drivers and find the settings was more important than normal and was well achieved.
“When you arrive on track, you put the car on the ground and you have the speed, you know you have the right preparation.”
“The acclimatization of Aurélien was very quick and he has been quite impressive. He is a talent and we are really happy to have him on board.”
“Gabriel is showing his pace in WEC and it wasn’t a surprise when he showed his pace in the car.”
How this now translates into a very wet race will be interesting to see.
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By Sam Tickell, September 2018. Photos from ELMS
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