Yelmer retires from the 24 hours of Le Mans with technical problems
Unfortunately Yelmer could not finalize his first participation in the 24 hours of Le Mans. After 18 hours of fierce racing the Lola B12/80 came to a halt with an electronic problem.
With hundreds of thousands spectators along the 8.7 mile circuit the 56 cars went underway at three in the afternoon. Yelmer had taken the start with the Status Grand Prix Lola but after only 15 minutes he came back into the pits with what seemed an alarming lack of grip at rear. “We have to go on for 24 hours so it would be stupid to continue when you think something is wrong with the car”, Yelmer explained. After a 15 minutes inspection he rejoined the race again in dead last place in the 20 cars strong LMP2 class. From there the crew worked up its way and by midnight they were back in 8th place. But then the car came in for an unscheduled stop with damage at the front. Alexander Sims had hit the guardrail and it took the team 45 minutes to get the Lola back in race shape. A commendable classification had gone down the drain. But Sims, Romain Ianetta and Yelmer kept motoring on and moved up the leader board again. Unfortunately after almost 18 hours their race came to a sudden halt. Due to a faulty generator the battery was drained and overheating, producing smoke and smell in the cockpit.
Yelmer tried to fix the problem, verbally assisted by a mechanic from behind the guardrail, but it was all in vain. The number 30 car was now definitely out of the race. “It’s such a shame to end up like this. I think that we could still have ranked fairly good after all the quick laps that we did. We were really fast”, Yelmer sighed. Nonetheless the experience had been fantastic. “We have learned a lot about this race. My team as well as me. It is a constant flow of happenings. Such as nearing a corner at high speed while noticing a big cloud of smoke. Has someone blown up his engine? Is the track soaked with oil? Or has he tried to out-brake himself? And racing in the dark with all the different speeds of the cars demands full time maximum concentration. Look at Alexander who went of in the night. It is a pity we lost so much time but we stranded anyway. On the other way it has been a fantastic experience. The huge crowds, the drivers parade in the centre of the city, the atmosphere, everything there is awesome. Together with my GP2 race in Monaco this has been the most impressive thing in my career. Let’s hope we can come back next year”.
The first three places were claimed by the Audi factory team, without any competition since both Toyota’s retired early in the race. For real exciting racing Yelmer’s LMP2 class had been the place to be.
Final result of the 24 hours of Le Mans
1. Lotterer/Fässler/Treluyer (Audi R18E Hybrid) 379 laps; 2. McNish/Capello/Kristensen (idem) at 1 lap; 3. Jarvis/Bonanomi/Rockenfeller (Audi R18) at 3 laps; 4. Prost/Jani/Heidfeld (Lola B12/60 Coupé-Toyota) at 12 laps; 5. Gene/Dumas/Duval (Audi R18) at 13 laps; 7. Portolichio/Dalziel/Kimber-Smith (HPD-Honda, 1st in LMP2) at 24 laps