Following a positive weekend at the FIA WEC 6h Spa-Francorchamps, Eurasia Motorsport confirmed the driver line-up will remain ‘as-is’ for the 2020 Le Mans 24 hours in September.
The long break from racing that the team endured since the conclusion of the Asian Le Mans Series in February, coupled with travel and preparation uncertainties for the team – and drivers – meant the WEC round at Spa was the perfect test to get back to racing and bring the team together to work on the performance of the Ligier JS P217 ahead of the 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans challenge ahead.
The event was also a good benchmark and a chance to gain valuable experience for Nobuya Yamanaka, who was competing at World Championship level for the first time at the famous Belgian venue, notorious for its high-speed corners and changeable conditions.
The Japanese acquitted himself well, experiencing a number of firsts; namely the first time he had visited the Spa Francorchamps circuit, first time to qualify himself in a prototype event, first start in a World Championship event and critically first time to experience an LMP2 car in the wet, and wet it certainly was!
It was also the first time for the trio of drivers to work together, with Nick Foster and Roberto Merhi having raced in the sister Eurasia entered LMP2 in the 19-20 Asian Le Mans Series, but not together in the same car. The combination worked well, cementing the line up that will compete for Eurasia Motorsport at Le Mans.
Merhi, with a wealth of experience in Spa, was naturally very quick in both wet and dry conditions, setting competitive times in the Ligier comparable with the more fancied Oreca. Foster, hot from Berlin in the Jaguar I-PACE eTrophy, adapted quickly the very different machinery, running a faultless double stint with consistency and speed.
Mark Goddard, Eurasia Motorsport Team Principal
“We achieved all we expected with this tough test in Spa; the crew got the opportunity to work in a competitive environment for the first time in a while. They also worked well under pressure, changing conditions and completed some running repairs. The drivers – especially Yamanaka – got the valuable experience that will be of great benefit when he lines up at Le Mans next month.”
“Jumping back in the P2 after Berlin was a real buzz. The first laps in practice reminding me how quick these things are. Most of all we had a lot of fun racing together this weekend and I am grateful to be confirmed as part of the squad for Le Mans. Racing a P2 car there is going to be an amazing experience, my previous appearances being in GT machinery.”
“I certainly enjoyed the weekend and am looking forward to getting back to Le Mans where I Iast competed in 2016. I managed some really competitive lap times this weekend at Spa and hopefully we can carry some pace into the Le Mans weekend and help Nobuya Yamanaka to have a great and competitive event.”
“I want to thank the team, Nick and Roberto for helping me this weekend at Spa and also on the journey so far. The next part of which is my debut at the 24 of Le Mans which has long been my dream. To share the car with Nick and Roberto will be an honour and I am very happy they want to join with me. They have been a great help in supporting me in my driving as well as with their experience and coaching.”