The final round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup ended early for Louis Delétraz yesterday when his GPX Racing Porsche was forced to retire at Circuit Paul Ricard with a technical issue.
The Swiss driver, a member of the GPX Academy, was invited back into the #40 Porsche 911 GT3-R line-up for the third time this season and partnered Romain Dumas and Thomas Preining in their bid for success at the Paul Ricard 1000km race.
The factory-supported car performed well during qualifying and Louis emerged from his group with credit as he finished P10 and the highest placed Porsche. That meant the car was classified P9 on the grid when the car’s three qualifying times were averaged.
“It was a quite a short weekend because we only started driving on Saturday. But qualifying was decent and everyone in the team did a really strong job,” Louis said. “I think we optimised the performance to qualify P9.”
Romain Dumas started Sunday’s 40-car race and Louis took over with the car nestled comfortably in P11.
Unfortunately, ten laps into his stint, the bearings on the car’s left-rear wheel unexpectedly broke, causing it to collapse and the brake disc to lock on.
“I felt the wheel collapse and then the steering suddenly lurched to the left,” Louis explained. “I knew it was a big problem so I boxed straight away.”
After inspecting the damage, the GPX Racing engineers quickly concluded the car couldn’t continue and it was retired from the race after 48 laps.
Louis said: “It was one of those things that can happen in motorsport – certainly nobody was to blame. The disappointing thing is the car didn’t score any points towards the Endurance Cup Teams’ Championship which was the target.”
At the top of the leaderboard, the #12 GPX Racing sister Porsche led the race for a considerable distance but ultimately missed out on victory by 1.6s after six hours of hard racing.
Finishing P2 overall did secure runner-up spot in the Endurance Cup Teams’ Championship for GPX Racing and Porsche, while the #12 line-up of Matt Campbell, Patrick Pilet and Mathieu Jaminet also scooped P2 in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
“I saw how hard the guys at GPX Racing and Porsche worked towards both championships so big congratulations to them for sealing P2,” Louis added. “They absolutely pushed to the limit and only missed the win by just over a second. That’s impressive.
“A huge thank you to GPX Racing, Fred Fatien, Pierre Brice Mena and Porsche for their trust in me this season. I have learned a huge amount through this GT3 programme and it’s been a pleasure to be part of such a formidable team.”
With his 2020 endurance racing programme now at an end, Louis’ attention turns to the penultimate round of the FIA Formula 2 Championship in Bahrain on 27-29 November.