AT Racing duo Alexander Talkanitsa Father and Son can be very happy and proud after Round 4 of the Michelin Le Mans Cup in Barcelona. In fact from one session to the other, they managed to find the right balance of the car, to complete a beautiful qualifying session and a perfect start of the race. Unfortunately a broken exhaust pipe eventually cut the race short after only 8 laps.
For the first time since the new ELMS, the competitors had the chance to make it back to Barcelona Formula One racetrack. The Belarusian drivers were not discovering the Spanish circuit, as they had a good experience in GT racing.
Is Racing in Barcelona with a prototype very different than racing with a GT ?
“Last time we came here in 2014, we were driving a Ferrari GT, a very successful year where we won in Mugello and in Spa 24-Hours with Ferrari “ said Alexander Talkanitsa Senior. “The track is tricky and hard on tires, particularly with the hot weather. But the most important difference between GT and Prototype racing is the power of the car on fast corners as you can really feel the down force. Braking is also very different, as you break much later with a prototype.”
LMC – BARCELONA ROUND
Alexander Senior completed the Wednesday collective test session: “It was very nice to come back to Barcelon,. My son came on Thursday, so I was the only one driving during the Wednesday collective test. The first two hours were complicated, because of the 35C° air temperature while the track was about 42C°… We used only old tires, but with the heat it was difficult to manage the car as you can’t break well when it’s so hot; in addition the track was extremely dirty. The afternoon session went better. We worked on the set-up and I managed to go under 1:45 lap time.”
Free Practice 1 (22 laps – P18) on Thursday was disturbed by Red Flag and FCY but Alex Junior’s main objective was to get back into the car and remember the track. In their 22-lap session, they could prepare for stable lap times and car set-up towards the race. The Bronze Collective test was reduced to a 4-lap session because of a major red flag. Alexander Senior could therefore not get settled with the new set of tires
Free Practice 2 (28 laps – P12). Alex Junior : “Even though we were still using old tires, we improved a lot the car’s set-up in FP2, which gave us additional stability in the rear and made it easier to push in the entry and mid corner. My best lap time in 1:43.755 is decent, but the track was still very dirty, meaning that you really have to stay on the line, to not lose the benefit while getting back to speed.”
Qualification – P5 – Best lap 1:44.000. Great qualifying session for the duo Talkanitsa, signing their overall best lap time since the beginning of the season and the fastest Ligier on the grid. Alexander Senior: “My son gave me good advice to do well in qualification. I had to better my driving style in two very specific corners, a fast one followed by a fast right… Instead of entering the corner with full power, releasing and then turn, he told me to start turning before releasing, and yes, that was the key, as the car stayed more active and I did not lose as much time. This is a very nice step forward. In addition, the set-up he worked on in FP2 with less wing , gave a much better stability to the car in the rear. Of course, it is also extremely important to not make any mistake here in Barcelona, the track is really difficult.”
Race – 8 Laps – DNF mechanical issue After such a progression during the Barcelona Round, Alexander Talkanitsa duo could only be disappointed to not have had the chance to go to the chequered flag. Alex Junior : “The main information that has to be remembered from this weekend is definitely the great improvement we have gone trough. We could not finished because of a broken exhaust pipe, the smoke was coming inside, I had to stop, there was no other solution. Starting P5 and 1st Ligier JSP3 on the grid is also our best result this season. My start was good as I came out P3 after the first lap. I was fighting with Tony Wells #2 Norma when I was forced to come to the box. I wish we had gone to the end, as the car was feeling great, the driving was good, this race was just great. It’s a pity, but there is nothing we can do about this. Now we are looking forward to the next race in Spa.”