Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver Yifei Ye began his European Le Mans Series (ELMS) title defence at Circuit Paul Ricard with a brilliant opening stint in the #37 Oreca 07, helping the COOL Racing team to recover to fifth place, having started from the back of the grid.
After a late red flag denied Ye the chance to set a competitive lap time in Saturday’s qualifying session, the Chinese driver put in a storming drive from P40 on the grid. His charge included a daring double overtake at the fast Signes corner, as he ran in third before the end of his double stint.
2021 ELMS LMP3 runner-up Niklas Krütten took over from Ye after the first hour and a half, moving up to second before a puncture forced the German into the pits. With four-time Le Mans LMP2 winner Nicolas Lapierre in the car for the final part of the race, the team were able to secure a fifth-place finish.
The 4 Hours of Le Castellet also saw Absolute Racing’s series debut in its first full season of competition in Europe, with Indonesian driver Andrew Haryanto, Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver in 2020-2021 Alessio Picariello and Estonian racer Martin Rump at the wheel of the #18 Porsche 911 RSR.
Starting eighth in the LMGTE category, the Shanghai-based team moved up to third in class during the race, before taking the chequered flag in eighth position.
Absolute Racing were also in action in the Pirelli GT4 America Championship at Sonoma Raceway this weekend, becoming the first Asian team to race the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. Anderson Tanoto and Lars Kern were at the wheel of the #899 machine, competing at the sharp end of the Pro-Am category, before incidents saw them finish 14th and 17th in class in Race 1 and 2 respectively.
Yifei Ye, #37 COOL Racing Oreca 07: “It was a challenge to start behind the LMGTE and LMP3 cars but I stayed out of trouble and made my way safely through the field to help the team recover to fifth overall. It’s not what we were aiming for but it’s important points for the championship going forward and we should be happy with our performance in the race. We had a strong car overall and we know what areas we need to improve on. I’m proud of everyone for their effort this weekend, and we have a lot to analyse from Paul Ricard to help us prepare for the next race at Imola.”
Andrew Haryanto, #18 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 RSR: “It was a good weekend for the team to learn and see how competitive the series is. Martin was quickly up to speed in the car, which was great to see. The race didn’t really go our way and we ended up finishing lower than we would’ve liked but it was still a solid debut for Absolute Racing in ELMS.”
Alessio Picariello, #18 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 RSR: “Today’s race was a tough one for us, we didn’t achieve the result we were looking for, but it was still a solid debut for the team. We have five races left to go in the season, so we’ll have our sights set on bouncing back at the next round.”
Martin Rump, #18 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 RSR: “We gave it our all today but unfortunately some things just didn’t go our way. We have lots to analyse and areas we need to improve on, but there are positives to take away from this weekend and we will be aiming for a much better result at Imola!”
Anderson Tanoto, #899 Absolute Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport: “It was hard racing, luck was not on our side but we are coming back energised and stronger for the upcoming IMSA weekend!”
Lars Kern, #899 Absolute Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport: “I really enjoyed the races here in the US. We were looking good until the incidents, so there are a lot of positives to take away. We knew that it was going be a tough one, showing up with a brand new car without a single test day is always difficult. However, we learned a lot and are looking forward to Laguna Seca.”
Alexandre Gibot, Managing Director Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Ltd: “Yifei did a very good job during his double stint to move through the field early in the race. He kept out of trouble and put in some brilliant overtakes to help the team recover to a solid points finish. Having Absolute Racing on the grid was also great, certain moments didn’t go their way in the race, but there’s much more to come from them this season. Over in America, we’re delighted to have Absolute Racing becoming Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific’s first customer to race the new GT4 car. Anderson and Lars had strong speed and deserved better results, which we’re hopeful they’ll achieve in their next outing.”
Photo © Jules Beaumont, Matthias Schütt/racefilm.de, Fabian Lagunas Photography