Christian Olsen enjoyed his best result of the 2019 ELMS season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya yesterday in the four-hour into-the-night-race, his #15 Composite World-backed RLR Msport Ligier crossing the line seventh in LMP2.
The young Dane was tasked with Qualifying the car and taking the start of the race. With a 1:42.715 in Qualifying, he secured 14th in class on the grid. The team’s conservative qualifying strategy, in order to ensure the car’s race pace in the heat would be strong paid off.
Olsen had a perfect start to the race, which was held in 30+ degree heat, and managed to make up seven places on the opening lap. From there, he dug in and managed to climb to fifth in class by the time he had to pit on Lap 36 to hand over to one of his two full-season teammates, Martin Rich.
Rich continued the team’s run to the front of the field, and during his time in the car, rose to second in class. However, a podium ended up being just out of reach. A spin by Rich and later during Martin Vedel’s stint a pit stop that took longer than expected dropped the car to P7 by the time the race was being run under full darkness.
Nevertheless, the race marked significant progress for Olsen and the RLR Msport team which suffered from poor luck and misfortune during the opening rounds of the 2019 season.
“We spent practice and qualifying getting the car set up for the race, ensuring it would be quick and wouldn’t destroy the rear tyres during a long stint,” said Olsen. “It meant that in Qualifying the raw pace wasn’t there.
“In the race I was on fire, I was ready to show what I could do. I made up lots of places on the first lap, then four more throughout the race. P14 to P5 in the first hour was exactly what we wanted, and my average lap time was within four tenths of my best lap. Consistency brought the team forward, I made no mistakes and as a result I feel that was one of my best performance behind the wheel of an LMP3 car.
“We were able to get up to P2 during Martin’s stint.”
Earlier in the day, Olsen also took part in the Michelin Le Mans Cup race with new teammate James Dayson in the #14 RLR Ligier. Unfortunately an off in the first hour of the 120-minute race for Dayson dropped the team two laps down and out of contention. Olsen was able to use his stint though, to get valuable mileage under his belt in preparation for the ELMS race later in the afternoon.
“I made up a lot of time, and my average pace was among the top three. It was hard being two laps down but I’m pleased with my performance.”
Next up for Christian’s LMP3 programme is the European Le Mans Series race meeting at Silverstone next month, which is a double-header with the FIA WEC season opener. There, he will compete in the annual four-hour ELMS race at the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’. His Michelin Le Mans Cup campaign meanwhile, will resume at Spa-Francorchamps in late September.