Sam Hancock and his Jota Sport outfit exited this year's Le Mans 24 Hours after 20 hours of racing following a valiant effort from the British driver and team.
Hancock and team-mates Simon Dolan and Haruki Kurosawa had climbed to a high as 4th in the LMP2 class following a disrupted qualifying session which left the No.38 car no higher than 12th on the starting grid despite topping the times repeatedly in practice. An early puncture for Hancock, who had started the race, then provided an unwelcome delay in the first hour but strong stints from the trio, including a quadruple stint during the night from Hancock hauled the Nissan-powered Zytek back into top-4 contention by the early hours of Sunday morning.
Handing over to Dolan shortly before dawn broke on the La Sarthe circuit, things looked good until an electrical failure caused the fellow Briton to loose his lights and power steering while navigating the fast "Esses" curves. Fine work from the Jota Sport mechanics had the car circulating again but not before more time was lost with a protracted recovery from the gravel trap. A valient fight back up to 12th in class by mid-morning on Sunday lifted spirits but not for long as, with just four hours remaining, Dolan suffered a high speed spin into the wall at the Porsche Curves that ultimately ended the team’s participation in the twice-around-the-clock event.
Despite their disappointment, Hancock and his Jota crew will be able to take heart from their efforts at the French classic. Their next competitive engagement will be the European Le Mans Series event at British venue Donington on July 15.
“There’s no hiding from the disappointment of this one, but only because everything had been looking so promising. The Jota boys have worked so hard all year to prepare an incredibly reliable and fast car and the support from Zytek has been, as ever, outstanding. We were quick in the test, quick in practice, had the fastest average pace across all three drivers and looked good for the race. But Le Mans is a huge, huge challenge and we’ve been reminded today how hard it is to get to the flag, let alone win. But I’ve enjoyed every minute regardless, particularly the quadruple stint in the night – we had the car up to 4th position and it felt fantastic. These are the memories I’ll try to take away from this year, along with a huge amount of pride at having the opportunity to work with such a phenomenal bunch of people. I am immensely grateful for their efforts and for the opportunity to be a part of it all. We’ll be back!”