Early mechanical problem thwarts 24 Hours of Le Mans victory bid by STP-backed Irish team Murphy Prototypes but a sterling fight back is rewarded.
Despite a hugely impressive display of pace and consistency for the vast majority of the race, electrical gremlins in the first hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans robbed the Murphy Prototypes racing team of their bid to win their class at this year’s 90th. running of the endurance classic last weekend.
STP & Murphy Protypes drivers
Having lost over twenty minutes in the pits rectifying the problem on their 450 bhp Nissan V8-powered Oreca 03 – which dropped them all the way back to 52nd. – the ebullient STP-backed team had a metaphorical mountain to climb to claw their way up the ultra-competitive field, amidst constantly changing weather conditions.
Lapping the 8.5 mile (13.6 km) circuit at much the same lap speed as the class winner for the remainder of the race, they steadily climbed up the leader board hour by hour, but the challenge was too great for them to fulfil their ambition.
Nevertheless, the Irish team had the satisfaction of completing this year’s running of the world’s oldest endurance motor race in 13th place overall and seventh in class.
Team owner, Greg Murphy, commented after the race: “Undoubtedly, had it not been for that early delay, we would have remained on target to win our class, as our lap times were consistently on a par with the front runners.
“Frustratingly, the unscheduled time we spent in the pits early on was close to the time we were behind the class winner as the flag dropped on the finish.
“But then, he reflected, “motor racing is all about ‘What if’s’… I am immensely proud of the entire Murphy pit crew, and our three drivers – who bought the car safely to the finishing line.
“If our French friends are nice enough to ask me back, we will definitely be here next year for another crack at it!”, he concluded.
The team’s regular 2013 European Le Mans Series driver line-up of hotshot New Zealander, Brendon Hartley, and the greatly-experienced endurance sports car campaigner, Mark Patterson – who placed 2nd in LMP2 at the Petit Le Mans 2011 – was boosted at Le Mans by former Lotus and Hispania F1 driver, Karun Chandhok.
Brendon Hartley: “It was a frustrating start to the race with the issues we had. We were effectively out of it before we started, but in true Murphy Prototypes style we fought back all the way to seventh, which I think is a big achievement from being right at the back of the grid.”
Mark Patterson: “It feels fantastic, I am so impressed with the team. There was a minor technical problem which took us back to 52nd in the field and we fought back to thirteenth overall – that’s what endurance racing is all about.”
Karun Chandhok: “We made up big time on the leaders, especially when it rained in the dark. I thoroughly enjoyed the Le Mans experience once again and can’t wait to come back year after year. Racing here day and night is one of the most special experiences in the world.”
Changeable weather played havoc with this year’s event, with the field spending a total of four hours behind the safety car due to poor conditions and to incidents, many caused by the track surface varying from one part of the circuit to another.
One such safety car period was in the aftermath of the shocking accident of Danish racing driver, Allan Simonsen, on the fourth lap of the race, which tragically claimed his life.
Check-out Murphy Prototypes at: www.murphyprototypes.com Their vision is to compete at the highest level of Endurance Racing. This year, they race the Nissan-Oreca in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the next outing being at Red Bull Ring, in Austria on July 19/20.
STP, the famed oil and fuel additives engine care brand is distributed in Ireland by Team P.R. Reilly.
Irish team Murphy Prototypes in action in the famous Le Mans 24-Hour Race last weekend.