Caterham Motorsport celebrated the completion of its maiden Le Mans 24 Hours at the La Sarthe circuit by finishing 11th place (out of 22 entries in its class) in the LMP2 category. The team came in 24th in the overall standings. Drivers Alexander Rossi, Tom Kimber-Smith and Eric Lux delivered behind the wheel of the Caterham Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan despite suspension failure and a puncture.
From the lights, Kimber-Smith took the Caterham LMP2 as high as fifth place in class, before handing over to Caterham F1 reserve driver, Alexander Rossi, in his first ever Le Mans race. The American driver’s four-hour stint saw a series of fastest LMP2 class laps being set, and a suspension failure. Sadly he was forced to nurse the #41 machine around the 13.63km circuit back to the pits for repair work. The repair work meant the team lost four valuable laps.
It was then the chance of fellow American Eric Lux to take to the cockpit. The 25-year old's stint was however somewhat curtailed as he spun on cold tyres during one of several safety car periods, sustaining nose damage. When Lux returned to the garage, double LMP2 winner Tom Kimber-Smith got back behind the wheel for his second stint.
Ever changing weather conditions kept all the teams guessing throughout and produced a somewhat disjointed race, with a record breaking 11 safety car periods. Several drivers struggled with varying levels of grip, with braking points changing lap-by-lap.
During the night, Alexander Rossi lit up the timing screens, delivering a series of 3:44s laps, which saw him lapping three seconds a lap quicker than his fellow class runners. Rossi's efforts saw him move to 27th overall as he ended his night stint.
Suspension issues arose again on Sunday morning, denting the progress made overnight; this time it was Tom Kimber-Smith who nursed the car back to the garage for more repair work, which saw the team lose 20 minutes of track-time.
As Kimber-Smith neared the end of his third stint, it was the turn of Rossi to once again showcase his racing prowess. The American, who has never driven an endurance sportscar before the first test in early June, became only the second LMP2 category driver to break the 3:30 minute barrier in this year's event.
Despite the challenges, Eric Lux had the honour of bringing home the #41 Zytek-Z11SN Nissan for Caterham's inaugural Le Mans 24 Hours adventure.
Team Principal, Tim Greaves, praised Rossi in particular for his outstanding rookie display: "Alexander’s performance was one of the best I have ever seen, especially from a rookie. It was impeccable and in his first LMP2 class race, his pace was regularly up with the very best of LMP2-class veterans. I hope we can persuade his sponsors that he needs to return and taste the champagne."