After a two-year hiatus, IDEC SPORT RACING made a successful return to the 24H SERIES with a 4th-place finish at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
IDEC SPORT RACING considers its 4th place finish at the recent Hankook 24H BARCELONA “a fine result” on its first 24H SERIES start in more than two years.
The French team, the former 997-class champion in 2015 under its formative ‘Ruffier Racing’ nomenclature, last completed in the 24H SERIES at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO in 2019 prior to last weekend’s 24-hour event at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Team owner Patrice Lafargue and son Paul, the latter of whom helped the team secure the 2019 European Le Mans Series LMP2-class title, were joined at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA by team principal Nicolas Minassian and three-time ELMS class champion, Paul-Loup Chatin. The latter was competing in his first GT race since 2015.
As Ruffier Racing, the team is also a two-time class winner of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA: in 2013, Patrice and Paul Lafargue took the ‘997’ honours together with Gabriel Abergel and Franck Racinet, the father-son duo doing so again in 2015 with Abergel and Dimitri Enjalbert.
IDEC SPORT RACING’s newly livered Mercedes-AMG GT3 got off to a good start with a solid 6th place on the grid, and while the #17 couldn’t quite keep pace with the lead Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R, the WTM powered by Phoenix Ferrari 488 GT3, or the DINAMIC Motorsport Porsche during the opening stages, the team ran consistently either in (or on the cusp of) the top five. During the night, Paul-Loup Chatin even held the event’s outright fastest lap – a 1m 48.843s – before being overhauled by Herberth Motorsport’s Robert Renauer. Aided admittedly by issues for both WTM Racing and DINAMIC Motorsport, IDEC SPORT eventually finished a strong 4th overall, its best result since finishing on the podium at the same event in 2018.
Ironically, the team came close to losing a top five result altogether inside the final 10 minutes when Patrice Lafargue lost the back-end of the Mercedes under braking for turn five, nosing the Mercedes into the outside gravel trap in the process. Despite losing two minutes, Lafargue did eventually manage to reverse the Mercedes out of the gravel and continue.
In spite of some issues, Paul-Loup Chatin was quick to praise the team for its efforts in Barcelona.
“It was a great experience!” Paul-Loup explained in the team’s official release. “We had a great week with the whole team. We are happy with this fine result against teams that are more used to 24H SERIES races. The car held up well so we can be satisfied with this 4th place even though we obviously would have liked to be on the podium. In any case, I had a lot of fun at the wheel for this first [time] with the Mercedes. I'm less used to GT races but I'm still satisfied with the pace and the race.”
“It's nice to be back in this championship that IDEC SPORT has been working with for years,” Nicolas Minassian added. “The Mercedes is a real racing animal while remaining healthy. We know it well since we have been riding the AMG GT3 for five years.” Prior to the event, Nicolas also mentioned, “it’s been a while since the car was driven, but we are ready to run. It will be the first time that Paul-Loup will race in a GT3, but he is a great driver so we have no doubts about his performance.”
Though IDEC SPORT RACING has yet to confirm an entry for the upcoming COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily, the team has shown an interest in competing at the inaugural Hankook 24H SEBRING at the Sebring International Raceway on 18-19-20 November.