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Le Mans 1000 Km – Four British Efforts (2 – Lister Storm Racing)
It’s frustrating to se an official ACO press release issued which stated that there were no surprises in second qualifying on the Bugatti Circuit on November 8.

One surprise was to see the Taurus Lola in third place with minutes remaining of the session – but it didn’t stay there. Its time was later thrown out for an airbox irregularity, but anyway the Lister Storm LMP, JC-W at the wheel, launched itself up to a genuine third before the end of the 45 minutes, with a 1:29.056.

“That was no surprise to us,” commented JC-W. “We’ve done a 1:29.4 in testing here recently.”

It was a surprise, surely, to those who haven’t had an inkling of the potential of this car?

Third on the grid at Le Mans, and perhaps 50 bhp down on most of the other top LMP 900 cars….

We’ve already highlighted the Laurence Pearce promise of a Christmas present to his drivers of “60 more reliable bhp” from the Lister developed V8, and have no doubt that this determined character will keep his promise.

“We’ve been quietly working away at the car during the summer,” explained LP. “There were a number of issues we needed to address, and I believe that we proved in Le Mans that we’ve got a really competitive chassis for next year.”

Who was it that pointed out that all Laurence Pearce needs is a challenge and then the bit will be firmly between his teeth? So it must have been him we saw in the Leatherhead area of Surrey, chewing away at a piece of metal.

“It’s the prototype that’s really getting me excited,” said Pearce this week. “But we’re developing the GT too of course.”

Busy times ahead for the Lister dynamometer…

So the LMP came of age on Saturday, and the broad smiles of one job well done were very evident in garage 26 at Le Mans.

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dailysportscar.comJamie Campbell-Walter had already given us his view of some of the design principles behind the black beauty, and Tom Coronel was interested to hear the thinking behind the front end shape, for example. A ‘high nose’ was of course considered a year or more ago, but the unique ‘low middle, high wheelarches’ design has now been proven to be very effective on both the short and full Le Mans tracks.

Both tracks? Well, the Storm showed very good straightline speed in June (bearing in mind its power deficit), and very good downforce in November.

So what did Sunday have in store?

JC-W: “We’ve never run it in the wet.” That was a fairly common comment on the new/newer cars up and down the pitlane (after such a dry summer in Europe), so the Lister brains had to come up with a wet set-up for the race that was partly intuition, partly guesswork.

“It’s not too bad,” said the lead driver after the warm up. “It’s good enough to race with.”

Campbell-Walter had driven the car during the wettest, opening part of the warm up – and was six seconds up (on his best time until then) on his in lap. Why did you come in then?

“My 15 minutes were up: I wanted the other two to try it in the wet.” Hmm, what a responsible attitude that was. Tom Coronel was happy with third fastest time, but the potential was there to be closer to the Audi – perhaps much closer.

And then it went wrong: after a string of thirds - in qualifying, in the warm up, and then third place in the opening laps of the race, a driveshaft broke exiting the last corner on lap 7. The Lister coasted past the pits, completed the lap and pitted for a long stop. LP could only say one word - “Driveshaft” – as Damian Smith and the other mechanics pitched in to change it as quickly as possible.

It could have been a 20 minute job, but ended up taking an hour and 17 minutes. Any chance of a good result had disappeared of course, but there was still a chance to demonstrate the car’s potential.

“Third quickest race lap, did you see that?” asked Laurence Pearce? Oh yes, we did.

Our man back at base also spotted the sequence of Lister lap times coming down, as Tom Coronel adapted to the drying track (still dampish) track: 1:44, 1:41, 1:40. 1:40, 1:39, 1:38, 1:37. 1:37, 1:36.

Nathan Kinch had already completed a double stint (on a wetter track) by then, so once the Safety Car pulled in, we had T. Coronel chasing A Wallace. “Did you see that, did you see that?” Yup.

JC-W and Nathan Kinch completed the race, the Lister having moved up from bog last at hour 1 to 29th at the end of the six hours.

GTS in Europe seems to be developing some real momentum in Europe at the moment, but a little patience should see the prototype arena really pick up too. The prototype future is going to be a bright one, we believe.

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