Podium Finish for JB Simmenauer and BWT Lechner Racing at Le Mans
It was a very special event for the Porsche Carrera Cup with the French and the German series racing together in the support program for the classical 24 Hours of Le Mans, on the famous more than 13 kilometre track with its long straights, with an overall classification, but also separate results and points for the two championships. For BWT Lechner Racing it turned out to be not the luckiest of all weekends, but JB Simmenauer kept his championship hopes very much alive with finishing 6th overall and third in the French Porsche Carrera Cup classification.
After two formation laps and a rolling start due to very wet track conditions, 19-year old Simmenauer was in the Top Ten already from P15 on the grid, when he was hit by Marvin Klein, the following spin dropping him back to P16, just before the first of two Safety Cars came out. He managed to fight his way back, finishing 7th overall and fourth in the French championship on track, but a 5-second time penalty for Klein for causing a collision promoted the young Frenchman up on the podium, by 93 thousands of a second. “A bit of luck in the end, after being rather unlucky in first place”, Simmenauer, who is now second in the championship with 55 points, behind Le Mans winner Ayhancan Güven with 62, was not unhappy. “I will stay positive, even of a bit more was possible today.”
Jaxon Evans seemed to be on the way to another podium finish after his good start into the season at Magny Cours last week when he was spun around by 17-year-old Loek Hartog, a guest starter from the Benelux Porsche Carrera Cup, who received a 30-second-penalty for his action. Evans was stuck in the gravel with no chance of getting out again on his own. “Of course it is very disappointing to be taken out of the race when you are fighting for the championship, especially by somebody who is a guest starter. Of course we are all fighting for the general classification, but still”, the Porsche Junior from New Zealand, who turned 24 on race day, was not happy at all. “This was not a nice birthday present at all. I think both me and the team deserved much more, but there was really nothing we could have done differently.”
German Richard Wagner really enjoyed the trip to Le Mans: “It´s an incredible circuit, fascinating to drive here. I started from P19 and it was really crazy in the wet, so much spray on the straights, you couldn´t see anything. But it went really well, I could make up quite a bit of ground, in the end I was fighting for P10, but got slightly hit so I had to go through the gravel and dropped back a bit. But finishing in P14 overall and in P7 in the French Porsche Carrera Cup classification is not bad at all. I hope it will continue this way.”
Nicolas Misslin again had a rather unlucky weekend: He was fastest in both free practice sessions, “even if I did not know the track as well as most of my opponents, as I drove here only once in 2017. In qualifying I missed pole position, which was easily possible, after making a mistake myself, but victory in the Pro-Am category still seemed possible due to our speed.” But things turned to the worse for the Frenchman during the second formation lap, when he had to come to the pits due to a tyre pressure problem, dropping back to the very end of the field of more than 50 cars. “But from then on, it was an incredible recovery race to finally finish fourth in class and 31st overall. So in general it was still a positive weekend due to our performance. It was only the third race of the season, there are seven more to come, I am still aiming for the title.”
Team principal Walter Lechner stated that it was “quite an unlucky weekend for our BWT Lechner Racing Team. Both Jaxon and JB were victims of rather harsh attacks of some of our competitors under difficult weather conditions. But JB showed a very strong performance, fighting his way back and was rewarded with a third place and the championship lead. We´ll be back fighting for more in two weeks´ time at Paul Ricard.”