Could Overall TCE Teams’ championship contender AC Motorsport secure another class podium at the upcoming Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD with its Audi RS 3 LMS?
AC Motorsport’s Stéphane Perrin believes the Belgian team could be on course for a good result at this weekend’s Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, citing that the French venue will be better suited to the team’s Audi RS 3 LMS.
AC Motorsport currently lies 2nd in the Overall TCE Teams’ title picture, just one point shy of outright leader CWS Engineering. Stéphane Perrin, Philippe Thirion, Sebastien Morales and Mathieu Detry finished 4th in-class aboard the #188 Audi RS 3 LMS at the season opener in Dubai, with Perrin and Detry going on to bag the team’s first podium of the season last time out in Mugello. And while perennial rivals Red Camel-Jordans.nl and reigning TCE champion Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing will prove traditionally tough competition in the TCR division in France, Stefan believes the ‘high-speed straight, low-speed corner’ nature of Circuit Paul Ricard could favour the Audi RS 3 LMS compared with the higher downforce, more technical character of the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, suggesting another podium could be on the cards at Le Castellet.
"Of course, we will have to check the balance of performance, but this is one of the races of the season, [alongside] Barcelona and Enna-Pergusa, where we will be naturally competitive," explains Stéphane Perrin. “Compared to the other 12-hour races in the championship, Paul Ricard will be contested in a single [unbroken] round, rather than two distinct parts of four and eight hours respectively. This means that staying on the lead lap during the first third of the race will not apply, and gaps will be penalized from the outset. And the gaps are often narrow after a very long race.
“But if [Mugello] does not necessarily [work] in favor of the Audi RS 3 LMS TCR, the situation will be different in Var with a circuit that’s better suited to the racing car with the rings.”
Perrin will once again team with Belgium’s Mathieu Detry at Circuit Paul Ricard, with both drivers set to be joined by series newcomer, David Dermont. Though Perrin and Detry were able to complete the recent Hankook 12H MUGELLO as a duo, the team nevertheless decided that a three-driver line-up would strategically be a better option for the non-start, 12-hour event at Paul Ricard on 23-24 April.
“David was interested in this kind of racing, and we share identical values on the motor racing front,” continues Stéphane. “As James Kaye is still being held back in the UK by complications related to the health situation, it was preferable to [extend the line-up] I already have with Mathieu Detry. And David has the perfect profile to help us get the better of our main opponents in the TCE Division. "
Qualifying for the 2021 Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD will take place from 15.00 hrs to 16.30 hrs local time on Friday 23 April. The race itself meanwhile will begin at 10.00hrs local time on Saturday 24 April, and will continue without break until the chequered flag is unfurled at 22.00 hrs later that night. Live coverage set to be provided on the official 24H SERIES YouTube channel with full commentary from radiolemans.com.
- Images – Petr Frýba