It was the first race for Louis in the 2021 World Endurance Championship in Portimão, a season opener that didn’t disappoint with 8 hours of wheel-to-wheel high-octane racing showcasing intense overtakes, battling rivals on track and Safety Cars. But at the end of the 8hrs, Louis Delétraz and the Inter Europol Competition Team brought the car home in P5 for the LMP2 Class.
The experienced Swiss driver has already completed some testing sessions in the past at the Algarve International Circuit and was now teaming up with Alex Brundle and Jacob Smiechowski to race for the win in LMP2 class.
The race weekend started on a high from the first 90-minute Free Practice session, a chance for the team to perfect the #34 Oreca 07 Gibson. The Inter Europol Competition Team narrowly missed out on topping the session by just 0.029s to their nearest rivals, setting their fastest time of 1:33.979 after completing 37 laps.
The team were consistently showing pace throughout the 2nd Free Practice session, finishing in 3rd place on the time sheets at the end of the 90-minute session and even better in the Free Practice 3 with their best lap time of 1:31.998.
The Inter Europol Competition Team entered the all-important Qualifying session ahead of the 8hrs of Portimão and ended the session to start the race in P6 in the LMP2 class.
It was a sunny start to race day and Louis’ nerves settled quickly as the excitement began for his first WEC race of the season. His teammate Alex would get things underway from the rolling start to the 8hrs of Portimão. It was an intense fight on Lap 1, race mode was on as they battled their way through the grid. With Alex still in the car, he pounced on the opportunity to move the team up to P5 after Lap 50. The pit-stop window opened and Louis Delétraz took over from Alex on Lap 56 with clear intention to race hard. With a little over 5hrs to go, racing beautifully, Louis had fought his way up to P2 and before a tyre anomaly dropped them back again to P5. He then passed the car over to his teammate Jacob.
A short Safety Car period was required for a racing incident involving the #44, which ruled them out of the race. After 3 Laps, the race went green again and the #34 Oreca 07 Gibson continued the fight towards a podium finish. It was the final hour in Portimão, and the team made one final driver change bringing the Swiss driver in for the final stint of the race. It was an uneventful end to the race with Louis Delétraz bringing the #34 across the finish line for the Inter Europol Competition Team in P5.
Louis will be back in race action at Monza on 11th July in the ELMS where he currently leads the Championship with the ORLEN Team WRT.
Louis Delétraz: “Finishing P5 was a good result for the team. From Friday onwards we improved and learned a lot in every session. I tried to bring my experience here to help the team push forward. My two teammates were very strong and did a great job over the race weekend. We know what the crucial points are to improve the next time we are all on track together. The only anomaly was the rear left tyre during my double stint because we suspected there was a slight issue, which then cost us more than 30 seconds. But overall, our pace was good and I’m sure that the team will look forward and learn a lot from this weekend. Thank-you everyone for their hard work this race weekend in Portimão”.