Archive | June, 2014

RICHARD BRADLEY AND KCMG’S RACE-WINNING PACE COMES TO NOUGHT AT LE MANS

30 Jun

Richard Bradley and KC Motorgroup Ltd’s (KCMG) bid for class victory at the 82nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours came to a premature end on Saturday evening when the Chinese squad’s #47 Oreca 03R Nissan sustained irreparable accident damage after suffering driveshaft failure.

Richards team mate Alex Imperatori was uninjured in the hefty crash that occurred on the exit of Karting Corner at the six-and-a-half hour mark, but was unable to recover to the pits and forced to retire from the season’s only double points-paying FIA World Endurance Championship round.

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That brought to a close what had been a hugely encouraging but also unfortunate start to the world’s greatest endurance race for KCMG, who led early on before being caught out by freak weather conditions.

Having qualified only a second from pole, Imperatori made a good start on Saturday afternoon to climb from seventh to first during his opening 45-minute stint. After his 1 and a half hour double stint he then pitted to hand over to Richard Bradley who was able to inherit, and keep the lead in his first ever Le Mans 24 Hours.

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But the Briton unfortunately encountered from nowhere, a short sharp rain shower soaked the 8.4-mile-long Circuit de la Sarthe. On slick rubber Bradley was powerless to prevent the Oreca from aquaplaning into the tyre barrier at the first of the Mulsanne Straight’s two chicanes. Fortunately the damage wasn’t too severe and, having limped back to the pits for cosmetic repairs, he returned to the track under Safety Car conditions in third.

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A second pit visit in quick succession to check the rear wing would subsequently drop Bradley down to 11th, before he set about being the fastest LMP2 on track in both wet and dry conditions managing to climb back up to seventh in a marathon 3 hours 51 minute stint in his first ever time in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Matt Howson and Alex Imperatori then continued to close the gap to the other competitors until disaster struck for Alex when the driveshaft failed and the car had a big accident, putting the team out of the race.

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Richard Bradley: “We’re all really frustrated to be out so early but these are the circumstances and there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to take the positives; we were leading the race quite comfortably before the rain shower and were very fast after that in all conditions. It was just a case of bad luck. It’s been a great team performance and, personally, I’m happy with my Le Mans debut. It’s just such a shame the race ended so early for us.”

While clearly disappointed not to finish at Le Mans, Richard and KCMG will now regroup ahead of round four of this year’s FIA WEC campaign at Circuit of the Americas on September 18-20.

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