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KnightHawk Racing has completed its Preliminary Practice Session at Le Mans and is satisfied with the results of their first outing. The Le Mans session occurred on Sunday, May 5 at the legendary French circuit.
The team ended the day completing 51 laps of the 13,880km course with a fastest lap time of 3:48.326 for a 3rd in class. The #30 KnightHawk MG Lola finished behind the two factory MG Lola’s and 3.69 seconds ahead of the 4th in class LMP 675.
Prior to the Sunday practice day, the team’s MG Lola went through scrutineering on Friday afternoon passing with nary a problem. The practice day itself was broken into two separate time periods from 9am to 1pm, and then again from 2:30 6pm.
The goal of the team was to spend the morning session having the drivers Mel Hawkins, Steve Knight and Duncan Dayton get adjusted to the new track. None of the three had ever had the pleasure of navigating the famed circuit before.
“Le Mans is such a great track,” says Hawkins. “It’s incredibly fun to drive although not easy. It presents an outstanding mixture of high speed and technical turns a combination that I love!”
“I pretty much kept my focus all day on learning and gaining experience at the track, and really did not let my emotions get in the way” added Knight. “It wasn’t until the end of the day, when we were all finished, that I came to realize what an event this was for me. It’s long been a dream of mine to compete at Le Mans, and after my first day on the track, the importance of the day came to me very strongly the opportunity to race on the same track that has hosted so many of the world’s best drivers and that has so much exciting history it was overwhelming.”
The team’s goal for the afternoon session was to work on the handling of the car and to dial-in the settings for their return in June. Unfortunately, a small crack was noticed in one of the rear support arms, and while it may have made it through the afternoon session, the team decided not to “chance it”. Due to the fact that replacing the arm required the removal of the gearbox, a full three hours of the afternoon session was lost to this repair. With only a limited time remaining, the team did its best to solve some handling problems the car was experiencing and work on the set-up. The day ended with these issues not yet being completely resolved.
“I would have been happier if we’d been able to improve our times during the afternoon session as this would have been the normal progression,” said Knight. “With the support arm change, our opportunity to do that was dramatically decreased, but it presented a different opportunity the team built a lot of confidence performing together the crew and the drivers. We’ll be just fine come race day.”
“What we accomplished this week, first and foremost, was to learn the track and “gel” as a team both of which we did,” remarked Hawkins. “We’ve set for ourselves a series of objectives and as we face each challenge, we achieve them. Our goals were to be invited to compete, to learn and experience the circuit, to work in harmony as a team - and to finish the race. We’ve met three of the four and we’ll achieve the fourth in June.”
“I was very thrilled to be on the Le Mans track for the first time,” said co-driver Duncan Dayton. “I’m also very impressed with the speed in which the team replaced the broken support arm. As the day came to and end, we were still trying to sort some things through. I believe that the car has some more speed in it, and I look forward to finding that speed at the race in June.”
“The morning session went off as planned, with all three drivers getting comfortable with the track,” said Team Manager Mike Johnson. “We experienced a crack in the rear support arm, which is exactly what happened at Sebring, and we lost a considerable amount of afternoon practice time making the repair. Lola had created an “update” kit that solved this issue but unfortunately we didn’t get the kit in time to install it prior to the practice session. We did spend an extra two days in France installing the kit before the car was shipped back to the states for the Sears Point Race.
All in all, the team and drivers did very well, and we look forward to the race in June.
Additional information regarding the Le Mans Practice Session, and the race in June, is available to all on the Official Site of the 24 Hours of Le Mans www.lemans.org. Detailed information regarding KnightHawk Racing can be accessed on the team’s site at www.knighthawkracing.com.