LeMans

Michelin Le Mans Cup season opener

24. April 2023

Strong performance by both Lamborghini GT3s in practice and qualifying

The season opener of the Michelin Le Mans Cup (MLMC) took place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. The MOTUL-supported team from Wegberg is competing in this series for the first time this season. The field is 42 cars strong – 30 LMP3 cars and 12 GT3 cars. The two Lamborghini GT3s entered by Leipert Motorsport will be driven by Gabriel Rindone (I) and Patrick Kujala (FIN) – #19 – as well as the #70 Crowdstrike Lamborghini of Gerhard Watzinger (USA) and Brendon Leitch (NZ). The team from Wegberg had a good debut in practice and qualifying, but race results failed to materialise due to unfortunate circumstances.

Test day and training sessions

The event in Barcelona began with a seven-hour test day. Both GT3s were able to complete numerous laps and gain valuable experience. However, it also quickly became clear that the current “Balance of Performance” (BoP) classification for Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 is not good. Due to the small restrictor and the resulting lack of top speed, the Lamborghini had to fight hard for good lap times. This was also evident in the two free practice sessions and the test session for the Bronze drivers (Rindone and Watzinger). Nevertheless, the Lamborghinis managed to set respectable laptimes, although there were also numerous interruptions due to red flags – mostly triggered by the LMP3 cars.

Qualifying and race – Strong approaches and a lot of bad luck

In the final qualifying for the 2-hour race, which had to be run by the bronze drivers, the Leipert team showed a convincing performance. Despite the top speed disadvantage, Rindone (#19) put the Lamborghini Hurac├ín GT3 EVO2 on grid position 6 of the GT3 field – 34th overall. Watzinger (#70) drove his fastest lap of the weekend and was very satisfied, even though this ultimately meant only 11th on the grid.

The first half of the race with Watzinger at the wheel was marked by numerous safety car phases. As a result, the GT3 group initially remained close together. A well-timed pit stop and driver change after just under 46 minutes saw the Crowdstrike Lamborghini, now with Leitch at the wheel, improve to fifth place among the GT3 cars and P19 overall. The realistic hope of a good result lasted only a few minutes, however, until Leitch was touched by an LMP3 car and the Lamborghini went off into the gravel.

Rindone/Kujala could not start because the Lamborghini had a previously unknown electronic problem. Despite great efforts, the time after qualifying until the start of the race was too short to fix it.

Managing Directors Marcel Leipert & Marc Poos:

“Up to the end of qualifying, we felt very positive about our first appearance in the Michelin Le Mans Cup 2023. The team and the drivers worked right from the start and performed well, the procedures were fine. Despite the unfavourable BoP, the lap times were okay. In the race we were well on our way to a top position. But the contact by another car ruined a positive result. The non-start of the #19 with Rindone and Kujala was extremely annoying and bad luck, but in the short time the engineers and mechanics could not solve the problem. For the next race we expect a better BoP and are doing everything we can to place the two Lamborghinis at the front of the field. We are optimistic and have seen that we can be competitive.”

The next race of the team from Wegberg starts on 06-07 May 2023 at the Ardennes rollercoaster in Spa-Francorchamps with the 12h race of the Creventic Series. The next race will be the first LSTE round in Paul Ricard (France, 02.-04.06.23) with five Lamborghini Super Trofeo EVO2.