The 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the final round of the World Endurance Championship Super Season has finished in France.
The crew of the Russian SMP Racing team of Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov and Stoffel Vandoorne driving the BR1 prototype of the Russian company BR Engineering took third place in the overall standings and finished best of the Non-Hybrid cars.
Starting from the fifth position, the car #11 was able to immediately move up to fourth place and keep the position for the next sixteen hours. On Sunday morning, the crew took their positions as non-Hybrid leaders and kept it until the finish line, having just Toyota hybrid cars ahead. The SMP Racing drivers finished the 24-hour race with a three-lap gap from the nearest pursuer Rebellion. The crew drove 379 laps in total during the marathon.
Following the results of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and the whole 2018/2019 WEC season, the SMP Racing crew #11, driving the BR1 prototype developed by the Russian company BR Engineering under the leadership of Boris Rotenberg, finished as best among non-hybrid cars of the highest LMP1 category.
“For the first time in history, the crew of the Russian team, driving the sport prototype of the Russian design, stood on the podium in the highest LMP1 class of the most prestigious race in the world,” Boris Rotenberg, founder and head of the SMP Racing program and BR Engineering, said. “This is a landmark event for the Russian motorsport. The win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race means that we can not only fight with the strongest rivals from all over the world, but also build our own successful sports cars. I want to thank the SMP Racing team and the BR Engineering, who did a great job and achieved such an important result for us.”
"I want to congratulate the entire SMP Racing teams with this great result," Mikhail Aleshin (car #11) said. “We worked all year to achieve this result - to be the best among non-hybrid cars. It's incredible that we were able to speed up our Russian sport prototype by 3.3 seconds this year! Thanks to all the fans for believing in our team and supporting us. Without you, we would not have done it, thanks to everyone. And special thanks to Boris Rotenberg, the founder and head of the SMP Racing program and BR Engineering. We’ve built a great car, which we are all proud of!”
“It’s my first experience in Le Mans and it was a fantastic one,” Stoffel Vandoorne (car #11) said. “First of all, I want to thank Boris Rotenberg and SMP Racing for the opportunity I got to finally compete in WEC. I had a first taste of all the atmosphere at Spa, we took the podium there. And we repeated it here and are very happy about it. It was a really difficult race, we had good pace, especially when it mattered, we had some tough fights at the track and I think we stayed out of trouble, which was the main target for us. I’m very happy with my first experience at Le Mans and I hope I can be back here again.”
The other SMP car #17 of Stéphane Sarrazin, Egor Orudzhev and Sergey Sirotkin started the 24-hour race from third position. During the night, due to an accident, the sister car #17 went off the track and was unable to finish the race.
“My stint began at night,” Egor Orudzhev (car #17) said. “We kept a fairly stable lead over Rebellion Racing, but then I made a mistake and went off the track in the Porsche curves. The damage to the car turned out to be significant, probably the car wouldn’t have even started. Of course, I wanted to return to the track and get to the boxes. But due to the high level of damage done to the car, a medical warning light went on and the race organizers did not allow me to continue the race, although I felt fine and insisted on being allowed to be back on the track. But if you do not follow the orders, you are disqualified as well, so there was no choice for me. I apologize to the mechanics and engineers who did a great job, especially in the last week, to my teammates Sergey and Stephane, who had a great race, and the whole SMP Racing team."
The partner team of SMP Racing, the AF Corse car # 51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra has also taken part in the final race of the Super Season. The crew drove Ferrari 488 GTE EVO and finished first in the LMGTE Pro class.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans race was the final round of the 2018/2019 Super Season in the World Endurance Championship. In its debut season, the BR1, the first Russian prototype in the LMP1 class, had its debut season and already took a podium in the third race: the crew #17 finished third in the 6 Hours of Silverstone race in the UK. A series of successful races was continued by the crew # 11: the car stood on the third step of the podium four times - at rounds in China, the USA, Belgium and in the final 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Over the course of eight rounds of the FIA WEC, the SMP Racing team finished as the bronze medalist, both in the LMP1 class and in the overall standings of the championship.