Sunday 1st April saw the first competitive outing for the Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN Nissan. The opening round of the 2012 European Le Mans Series took place at Paul Ricard where the team finished The 6 Hours of Le Castellet 8th in class.
Before qualifying on the Saturday the number 38 Jota Zytek had done a mere 96km. Team driver, Sam Hancock put in an impressive performance in qualifying posting a time just 1.5 seconds off pole position. Heading into Sunday’s race the team were quietly confident and there was an air of excitement surrounding the debut race.
Sam Hancock started Sunday’s race and took no time in gaining another two positions: “I had a strong start to the race, the car felt great, which was a true testament to the team. To produce a car this quick and reliable straight out the box, in the little time available to our mechanics and Zytek, is astounding.”
A unique fuel strategy meant the number 38 Jota Zytek was able to lead the field at times. Once all had settled down after the second round of pit stops Sam Hancock handed the car over to Simon Dolan in 4th position for his first ever stint in an LMP car.
“With little time in the car before this afternoon my main focus was on consistency and learning the car. My lap times got progressively quicker throughout the stint, which I was really pleased about and I handed the car back to Sam in 4th position. To come away from the weekend having put in some great lap times, with an unbelievably solid and reliable car is fantastic – bring on the rest of the season.”
During his second stint Sam Hancock was consistently the fastest car on track and set about a podium position. An unfortunate collision with an Aston Martin GT AM car put an early end to Sam’s stint with the number 38 Zytek having to be wheeled into the garage for repairs.
Great work from the Jota Sport mechanics saw the car repaired and back onto the circuit with Simon Dolan at the wheel for the final stint, though the team’s hopes of a podium were no longer in sight. A blistering stint from Simon saw him claw back two laps on the 7th place car but the race ended before he was able to make his move.
Team Principal Sam Hignett commented:
“Its disappointing not to be on the podium when we clearly had the pace but if ten days ago, when I was standing among a pile of bits that didn’t in anyway resemble a car at the Zytek factory, someone had told me we would finish where we did I would of gladly taken it. This really is testament to the efforts of our guys and Zytek. With the pace we have seen from both our drivers with zero testing in the car prior to this weekend the outlook for this year is very exciting!”
Source : Jota