Having only a few days to prepare a car for any race is tough, but when that race is the first of the season and one of the toughest races in motorsport it is a real challenge. However the team as always was equal to challenge working tirlesly in the Florida sunshine to produce a car capable of dealing with the bumpy Sebring track and at the same time getting to grips with operation of the new World Endurance Championship. The drivers worked hard to aclimatise themselves with the car and the conditions after being away from driving over the winter. Over the first two days of testing the team was making good progress setting some consistent lap times with an ever changing grip level and it everybody was please to finally getting some test miles completed.
It was shaping up that new Oak chassis in the hands of experienced Sportscar ace Olivia Pla had the outright class pace with x-Peugeot works driver Stephane Sarrazin in the Honda close behind, with the limited time the ADR-Delta team had running the #25 Oreca the target was to be the best of the Oreca’s. So with some good times in testing the team was hopeful of a top three qualifying position, John Martin qualified the car but got bulked by traffic on his hot lap putting him fifth and when the session was cut short with a red flag due to a Level 5 car off at Turn 1 John did not get a chance to better his time.
Friday was a long night of pre race preparation for the team working through until the early hours to ensure the 25 car was at it’s best come race day – which is more than can be said for some of the team who were battling with serious ‘man flu’. Race day was probably the hottest day we had during the whole week so it was going to be a tough test to get through the 12 hour race for both man and machine. John started the race and was quickly into his stride setting fast lap times and ending up glued to the back of the Pecom Oreca which he was clearly faster than, however the short straights and narrow track means over taking is hard and when John got closed out at Turn 7 he had no option than to take to the old circuit loosing track position and causing the front end bodywork to become dislodged making the handling of the car far from ideal over the rest of his stint. Next in the car was Tor who had proven during testing that he could run fast consistent laps and after a disturbed start with radio issues Tor settled into his first double stint, we were nearly four hours in by the time Robbie got into the car but he quickly got into his usual quick groove. The race progressed relatively trouble free with the team trying to make up the early time lost in an extended and additional pit stop, after moving into fourth position and closing down on the top three the crew noticed a deflating tyre while Robbie was in the car, he was quickly radioed into the pit for a tyre change but it slipped us back to fifth. Try as we did to move back up the order there always seemed to be something keeping us in this position, either a safety car or an extended stop required for service.
Overall coming away from Sebring with Championship points and encouraging pace should be applauded but the ADR-Delta team is used to winning so we will be pushing hard to get to the podium at the second round at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium the first weekend in May.
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