KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) defied all odds at the majestic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and rounded off the second event of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a top four-class finish. Despite a debilitating penalty, which they served at the start of the race, Richard Bradley, Matt Howson and Nicolas Lapierre displayed unwavering tenacity – delivering laudable stints throughout the taxing six-hour round on the undulating 7.004km track in the Belgian Ardennes.
Thursday’s free practice sessions were held in very wet conditions. Given the poor visibility around the track, the team opted to limit their running during the first two 90-minute runs. The Hong Kong-based squad only had the opportunity to log a proper number of laps during Friday’s final practice and wrapped up the session in second place after posting their best time of 2:08.854.
Qualifying saw Matt Howson and Nicolas Lapierre emerge second fastest in the LMP2 class, setting an average time of 2:07.970 in the 25-minute session. This result, unfortunately, was forfeited after failing post-session scrutineering. More so, a penalty called for a pit lane start and a further thirty-second disadvantage had set a more challenging start for the team in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Within the first hour of the race, French ace Lapierre skillfully weaved through the field of LMP2 and GT cars and finished his first 42 laps in fourteenth place overall and sixth in class, yielding KCMG’s best time of 2:09.633 in the process. Howson took over driving duties as the race entered its second hour and delivered a flawless stint before handing the #47 LMP2 to his British compatriot Bradley.
Steadily gaining ground in the LMP2 field, the 23-year-old driver completed 41 laps before Lapierre took charge and did the final stint in the #47 ORECA 05 coupe. The final half hour of the world championship’s Belgian round saw the LMP virtuoso take the electric blue and silver prototype from sixth to fourth place, ultimately sealing another top four finish for the Hong Kong-based squad.
Richard Bradley: “We delivered a fantastic result considering that we started from the pit lane with the 30 second penalty, and to finish 13 seconds off the podium is credit to the team. The car has got good speed and there has been a significant progress since Silverstone. We head to Le Mans next month feeling very confident.”
Matt Howson: “Spa was overall a successful weekend. We made huge gains in only a few dry sessions and whilst the disqualification was unfortunate we proved just how strong we are in the race. We take away third in the championship and encouragement for Le Mans. Thanks to the team and my teammates for all their hardwork.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “The race result was not what we aimed for, but we have seen again the potential of the car. We’ve improved our setup a lot during the weekend and we feel ready for Le Mans. Overall, I enjoyed my first race in LMP2 with the team despite the tough start.”
Erich Kolb, KCMG WEC Team Manager: “This outing has been a true test of how strong the team is and has underlined the real potential of the ORECA 05. Despite the limited running time that we had during the practice sessions and the penalty that was handed to us after post qualifying scrutineering, the team rose above these challenges and concluded the weekend in the LMP2 class’ top four. I would like to commend Nicolas, Matt and Richard for their determination and the outstanding performance that they each delivered throughout the weekend and to the all the members of the team for the excellent job at Spa. We now head to Le Mans with confidence after the progress that we’ve made in this event.”
KCMG currently sits third in the LMP2 standings with 27 points. To know more about the FIA World Endurance Championship, please visit: www.fiawec.com