One pole position, four times on the podium, two wins and the title of European endurance racing champion… that is what IDEC SPORT has achieved in the 2019 season, without forgetting their incredible performance in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. We look back at the season with Patrice Lafargue.
“It’s magic!” It was with these simple words that Patrice Lafargue summed up the car racing year and the achievements of his IDEC SPORT team.
IDEC SPORT started the 2019 European Le Mans Series with a great result finishing second in the first race at le Castellet. The French team did ait again in Italy even after starting out from the back of the grid in the LMP2 category, which was quite an achievement.
In June, IDEC SPORT had the privilege of lining up in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. For the team’s third attempt at this legendary race, the trio of Paul-Loup Chatin, Paul Lafargue and Memo Rojas crossed the finish in fifth place in a pack with all the big names from around the world, which made Tony Parker very proud, when he came to support the team.
Halfway through the season, things did not go as well as planned at the Barcelona 4-Hour Race in spite of starting in pole position. Punctures and bad luck during the race gave a fifth place to the Oreca #28. They could soon forget that result as the men in red got their first win in the ELMS at Silverstone in the fourth meeting.
“This season, we took advantage of the experience gained last year. We wanted to build on that and we gave ourselves the means to make more progress,” declared Patrice Lafargue. “We kept the same drivers in 28 and I think that was what is behind our success. They really get on well together and are complementary. This first win did us a whole lot of good. We were often close before and knew we would do it one day. Once we had achieved that, things went well and we thought anything could happen.”
The fifth race took place in Spa-Francorchamps. That race could have been the turning point of the season for IDEC SPORT as the Oreca #28 was destroyed when they came off the track. The team had to work very hard and managed to recover a chassis from Germany and get the car together in time to start the race. It was a heroic race and in spite of some bad luck during the race that meant the IDEC SPORT drivers missed out on the podium, #28 finished sixth and saved some precious points. On the eve of the final event, G-Drive, last year’s champions were thirteen points ahead of the team.
In the sixth race, #28 triumphed after an incredible battle around the track. They closed the gap on the Russian team. IDEC SPORT got their second win in the LMP2 and won the title of European champions.
“We were not expecting to get the title, even if we had dreamt that. This second win was simply exceptional. Thirteen points seemed hard to make up to catch G-Drive, so it was incredible. I told everyone not to aim for a win. I didn’t want to pile on the pressure. We went into the race aiming to be second. In the end, it was the others who felt the pressure on them.”
2019, the season when we matured
“We know from experience that car racing is always different. Anything can happen in a race and I think we have learnt to react well. You must not get it by what happens on the track but react to it. You can’t base everything on what you expect to happen. The engineers and mechanics were very motivated. We have been performing well for a while and this is a great reward. They are fantastic,” stated Patrice Lafargue emotionally. “I’m just pleased to be able to join them each weekend. I have the best team possible. We even won the prize as team of the year and I’m proud of them.”
2020, a season to confirm this success
“A lot of people have been contacting us and want to join the team and that’s nice too.It means we are getting it right and the team pleases people. There is no ruling out that we won’t get the title again in 2020. We’ll be imagining that and trying to defend our title, which is only normal. We have one place already at Le Mans. We’ll try to get a place for the second car too. But we know already that we’ll be there and we’ll be preparing for that,” concluded Patrice Lafargue.
Results from the 2019 season:
Le Castellet 4-Hour Race (14th April): 2nd
Monza 4-Hour Race (12th May): 2nd
Le Mans 24-Hour Race: 5th
Barcelona 4-Hour Race (20th July): 5th
Silverstone 4-Hour Race (31st Aug): 1st
Spa 4-Hour Race (22nd September): 6th
Portimao 4-Hour Race: (27th October): 1st