Impressive Murphy Prototypes at Le Mans: 5th in LMP2
The Murphy Prototypes Endurance Racing Team has finished the 2015 24-Hours of Le Mans (13/14 June) fifth in the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype Class 2) category and in 13th place overall out of 55 starters. Following a huge effort by the whole team, the rollercoaster that is the greatest endurance race in the world, presented challenges, frustrations and ultimately success for the team’s fourth time of entering.
Two hours before the 83rd running of the world’s most famous endurance race, the Circuit de la Sarthe comes alive. The field of cars were pushed onto the grid, building the excitement for the 260,000 spectators with the flags, grid girls and the playing of the national anthems for each of the teams’ taking part, all in the presence of President Hollande.
Once the grid had been cleared, the race got underway at exactly 3.00pm in hot and sunny conditions. Nathanaël Berthon was the first of the three Murphy Prototypes’ drivers to get behind the wheel of the team’s Nissan-powered Oreca 03R prototype and a clear getaway by the whole field saw Nathanaël holding-station to his grid position: eighth in class and 18th overall.
After a treble-stint lasting two-and-a-half hours by Nathanaël, Karun Chandhok followed with the same and, when Mark Patterson took over the controls after five-hours, the team was lying an impressive third in the LMP2 class and holding an overall position of 13th.
By the time Mark finished his double-stint it was dark and, as planned, Nathanaël and Karun guided the car through the darkness hours. Now fifth in class and 14th overall, there was work to be done overnight if the team was to realise its goal of a podium position. At the halfway point at 3.00am, the time sheets showed the team had moved up to fourth in class and 12th overall – a position that was improved further when an LMP2 car ahead went off the road at the end of the Mulsanne straight.
An hour later, another LMP2 category competitor retired with a mechanical problem. This meant the team was now back to third in class and suddenly the target of the LMP2 podium was becoming a distinct possibility. However, in endurance racing, it’s not over until it’s over.
Karun was in the car for the sunrise shift and was delayed while the team removed some debris from the air intakes. It was then Mark’s turn again and, after nearly two hours of inspired driving, he was clipped from behind as a car went to overtake. After a brief visit to the pits to fix the damage, a spin and contact from another car saw the Murphy Oreca back in the pits for further bodywork repairs, but this time the work was to take over 20-minutes.
When Nathanaël exited the pits following a great effort by the team to fix the broken items, he was sixth in class: six laps down on the fifth-placed car and five laps ahead of the seventh. Therefore, unless anyone in front had a problem, it was unlikely that the position would change.
However, with just over an hour to go, that’s exactly what happened. When Karun jumped in to take the car to the end of the race, the Murphy team had moved up a place to fifth in class and 13th overall. The position was held until the end of the race, with the whole team delighted to get to the end of the one event that all race teams want to finish.
Greg Murphy – Team Principal
“Yes, we came here to win, but we have also just finished the greatest motor race in the world. I am extremely proud of the ‘Murphy’s men”. They have dealt with everything that’s been thrown at them, not just during the past 24-hours, but over the past week too. This just goes to prove our reputation of being one of the best teams on the grid.”
“There were times during the race when we were in a podium position, so it is a shame we couldn’t be there at the end. It’s been a tough 24-hours and I think I drove for nearly half of it. Overall I’m happy with the outcome and it’s been a great experience – especially with the Murphy Prototypes team.”
“It’s a hard race to finish and I’m pleased for the whole team to have achieved it. Although we had a few problems, I think we may have only gained one place if we hadn’t. This would have still not seen us on the podium and that’s what we were aiming for of course. I think that as a team, we are getting the best out of the car and therefore, this weekend represented a great effort all round.”
“I have to admit that I’ve had a great week. I’ve really enjoyed the Le Mans experience. There was a time during the race we had a good chance of an LMP2 podium position, but unfortunately that didn’t happen this time. But from what I’ve seen from the team this week, I’m sure it will happen before too long.”