Richard Westbrook has reflected on Glickenhaus’ first qualifying session of the FIA World Endurance Championship, saying it was a ‘learning experience’ after the team was unable to get the Michelin tyres in the right operating window for ten minute session.
Westbrook posted a fastest lap of 01:32:167 in the #709 Glickenhaus 007 LMH, which was 1.803s off the poletime set by Alpine’s Matthieu Vaxiviere, although the Briton mentioned he had a faster lap deleted for track limits infringements.
The gap to Alpine and Toyota was noticeable, as Westbrook had produced a fast lap in final practice that made it seem like the American Hypercar could show pace in qualifying.
Westbrook, however, told MotorsportWeek.com after qualifying that the team had struggled to extract one-lap pace from the car, leading to the deficit to the other cars in class.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” Westbrook said. “We couldn’t get the tyre to work after one lap, it’s as simple as that.
“We had a couple of small issues, but in FP3 we had a really good run where we showed some potential, let’s say, but we were obviously hoping for more in qualifying, but it is very difficult to switch the tyres on after one lap.”
He went on to refute that the tyre struggles were a characteristic of the 007 LMH, but instead the result of the team’s inexperience with the WEC qualifying format.
“No, not at all, that’s just us learning. Because they’re things we have not tested. We’ve been focusing on reliability, endurance, mechanical stuff, setup obviously, but we haven’t done qualifying sims in testing. But this is why we are here, to learn that kind of stuff.”
The qualifying result means that the American privateer will be starting in the middle of the LMP2 field. With the relatively small pace difference between the Hypercars and LMP2 machinery, which Westbrook expects provide the team with some significant challenges.
“I don’t know how that is going to pan out,” he said. “It would be nice just to get through the LMP2 traffic, but that is easier said than done. They are quicker in parts of the circuit, and we are quicker in other parts.
“We will have to see how that pans out, and if I do get stuck in the train, hopefully the Toyotas and the Alpine don’t sprint off in the distance.
“Listen, we’re all racers, we want to race in the front in this team but the focus is just getting through the weekend without any mishaps. That is what we are here for.”