Speedworks encouraged by pace and potential on LMP3 Cup debut
Speedworks Motorsport underscored its credentials as the rebranded LMP3 Cup Championship revved into life at Donington Park last weekend, with a pacey performance leaving the team brimful of confidence that big results are just around the corner.
Now benefiting from the official endorsement of the ACO – the organising body behind the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours – the LMP3 Cup Championship is one of Britain’s premier sportscar racing series, and in a high-calibre field, Gibbs placed Speedworks’ potent Ligier JS P3 sports prototype tenth on the grid for the opening contest.
Unfortunately, a sensor failure during the race brought the car to a halt on-track, but after being recovered to the pits, a stellar repair job enabled the #96 entry to return to the fray, albeit several tours down. A fastest lap time from Butel barely a tenth-of-a-second adrift of that of the race-winner hinted at the kind of result that might have been.
The next day, Gibbs – in only his second season of active competition – lapped almost a full second closer to the outright benchmark in qualifying, and that improvement carried over into the race as he and single-seater convert Butel manoeuvred the five-litre, 420bhp Ligier up through the order to take the chequered flag fifth.
To put that into context, they crossed the finish line less than three seconds behind ex-Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok, with the fourth-quickest lap again serving to underline Speedworks’ potential on the first rung of the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) ladder. Little wonder the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit’s Team Principal Christian Dick sees plenty of cause for optimism moving forward.
“From my point-of-view, the most positive aspect to take away from Donington was the fact that we were as quick as anybody else out there,” he asserted. “That was very encouraging and I think we have a really strong team – and as always, the Speedworks boys did a first-class job all weekend.
“Jack was there-or-thereabouts throughout, which showcased his ability as a driver, and I thought Dean produced a mega effort considering how late his deal came together and his lack of prior track time in the car. The Ligier is also a distinct step-up in performance over what he has raced before in his brief career to-date, but to his immense credit, he edged consistently closer to the pace and never looked like he was about to throw it off the circuit.
“Although it was obviously disappointing to encounter technical issues in the first race, our lap times demonstrated what we were capable of, and to come home within just a few seconds of a former Formula 1 driver in race two was an excellent result. Having Karun in the field was good for the profile of the series in general, I’d say, and although it was a relatively small grid for the first weekend, there were no question marks at all about the quality of the teams and drivers involved.
“There’s a lot of strength-in-depth in the LMP3 Cup Championship this year, and I think that will generate some fantastic racing over the course of the campaign – hopefully with us right in the thick of it!”