Thunderhead Carlin Racing enjoyed a solid start to its 2019 European Le Mans Series campaign which saw the team’s Dallara P217 cross the line after the 4 Hours of Le Castellet in 11th place. Piloted by Jack Manchester, Ben Barnicoat and Olivier Pla the weekend was a huge learning curve with positives and progress gained throughout as they brought the car home after the four hour race.
Following a strong top ten qualifying from Pla, it was Manchester who sat behind the wheel for the very first start of the season and his first ever ELMS rolling start. Manchester kept out of trouble placing his car well and delivered a consistent, mistake-free double stint before fellow Brit Barnicoat took over the controls. Pushing in the middle part of the race Barnicoat gained ground well and handed over to experienced racer Pla for the final stages. Pla continued the progress and crossed the line in 11th position following a clean race from all three Thunderhead Carlin Racing drivers.
Pushing from the green flag Manchester said, “I tried to keep it nice and clean during the race start which was the main objective. I stayed with the guys in the pack however in the dirty air the tyres struggled a little so from that moment I started to manage them and concentrate on my own race. It was a hard but really fun race to be honest! This has been a big learning experience for all of us and one we’ve enjoyed. I believe we’ve learnt a lot as a team and we’ll continue to do our best as we head towards Monza.”
Taking on the middle stint Barnicoat said, “Obviously Jack did a good job at the start and kept it nice and clean which was the goal considering this is our first races in this class. I got in the car after him and had what I felt was quite a good stint. Everything was new for me but I was able to move up a few positions so I can be happy with that. I’m pleased with everything that we’ve done this weekend; no mistakes in the race and we made the most of it. I’m really looking forward to the next one already.”
Taking the car across the line Pla added, “We’re still missing a bit of pace overall but it was the first race for the team in any type of endurance category, so we did our best and learnt as much as possible. In qualifying there was a lot of progress made and we definitely closed the gap but tyre degradation was a challenge during the race which we knew would be the case.”
The team will be back on track for the second round of the series in Monza from 10 – 12 May where team regular Harry Tincknell will join Jack Manchester and Ben Barnicoat on track.