SMP Racing’s Jenson Button rues the troubles the #11 crew faced in the Le Mans 24 Hours race which limited their chances to put a stiff fight against the Rebellion Racing cars in the LMP1 category for the non-hybrids glory.
The #17 crew of Stephane Sarrazin, Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Ourdzhev ran a comfortable third in the early stages until the night run when Isaakyan crashed the car, thereby ending its chances of a good result.
For the #11 crew, the luck wasn’t there from the start when Vitaly Petrov brought the car in with electronics issues due to which it lost nearly 50 laps and they already dropped way down in the field.
However, the team managed to fix the issue and Button, Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin had their turns on the recovery road. The team ran as high as fifth in class and Button started the final hour, but the BR Engineering BR1-AER gave way when the engine blew.
The British driver who not only made his endurance debut but also a first-timer in Le Mans felt the Russian outfit’s car had the pace to fight Rebellion which finished third and fourth respectively.
“I think coming to Le Mans everyone gets very excited,” he said. “A pretty special race. And for SMP Racing, BR1 and everyone it’s a brand new experience. So, I think we did a fantastic job.
“It’s a shame we had some issues in the start of the race which cost us 45 laps. And it’s a hard fight there because you have 24 hours of pushing, not knowing if you are going achieve something apart for the finish.
“But Vitaly, Mikhail and myself, I think we did a big job, pushing the car hard and too hard. And, you know, we had a failure in the end with the engine, which is a shame. But I think there is lot to learn from this race for everyone. I think the whole team did a fantastic job.
“To come here and to do as well as they did, I think we could really take a fight to Rebellion in terms of pace and strategy. For our first experience in Le Mans it’s too valid also, it’s also a great job for everyone. We are just going to learn from our mistakes.”
Out of the three SMP cars which entered in LMP1 and LMP2 categories, both the LMP1 cars failed to see the chequered flag with the #35 LMP2 crew of Harrison Newey, Norman Nato and Viktor Shaytar finishing 16th overall and 12th in class.