Team Virage celebrated its first ever LMP3 podium in Dijon last week-end, during the fourth round of the European VdeV Endurance Series. The other Team Virage car finished in the top 5 after having led the race at the first hour.
While Enqvist and Rattenbury ran together on the 95, Caouette was joined by Valenza on the 94, together with the Finnish sensation and ex-Audi TT Cup Champion Joonas Lappalainen. After having had both cars running regularly in the top 5 in Free Practices, Enqvist qualified his Ligier JSP3 in 7th position, closely followed by Lappalainen in 8th.
Rattenbury and Caouette were selected to take the start – the first in their LMP3 career -. While the Welsh gained a few positions, Caouette managed to stay in the top 10 and get into the front runners pace. Despite having done the 95 mandatory handicap drive-through, Rattenbury managed to keep contact with the leading pace, showing himself in second position at the end of the first hour, only preceded by his team mate Caouette, who had taken the lead shortly before the safety-car period.
After 1h20, Caouette handed the wheel to Philippe Valenza, while Rattenbury pushed his stint up to 2h20 with cockpit temperatures reaching a close 60º… Shortly after mid-race, he handed the wheel to Enqvist, who was planned to finish the race. While the 95 was set for a podium, its last pitstop happened a few minutes before another safety-car period, making the pair loose one lap compared to its opponents able to stop under full caution. On the 94, Valenza who had done a strong stint and was running in very competitive laptimes, swapped for Lappalainen, who exited the pit-lane in 9th position. The Finn, on fresh tyres, managed to close the gap with the podium, passing the number 33 with half an hour to go in order to put his car on the podium. Enqvist, who was navigating in 6th position, began to fight with Magny-Cours race winning car of Wimmer Werk, passing the Austrians with a superb move at the braking of Turn 1, in order to place the second Team Virage car in the top 5.
While both cars managed to unlap themselves from the leaders, Lappalainen crossed the line 3rd, offering Team Virage its first LMP3 podium (it would also be Caouette’s first racecar podium, and Valenza’s first international podium) while Enqvist/Rattenbury brought home a positive 5th place.
Julien Gerbi, Team Manager :
« We are getting closer and closer to our objectives. All the five drivers did a very good job during the 4h race, while temperatures were getting extremely high in the cockpits. Caouette provided a really mature stint despite being only 17 years old, while Enqvist, Lappalainen, Valenza and Rattenbury all showed a very good competitiveness during their runs. Now that we got one car on the podium, we will push hard during the summer to make sure both our cars will reach it after the summer pause in Navarra. »