Murphy Prototypes wins ELMS 3 Hours of Paul Ricard
October 2, 2013 by Colin Lewis
Murphy Prototypes has won the final round of the 2013 European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the 3 Hours of Paul Ricard, and is celebrating its first race win in the Hertz-liveried #18 Oreca-Nissan LMP2 thanks to impressive driving, a near faultless car and a sound race strategy.
Swiss racing driver Jonathan Hirschi was first out in the car and started the race from second on the grid thanks to an impressive qualifying session from team-mate Brendon Hartley earlier today (28 September). The team chose to qualify on the harder tyre compound so it could start the race on a set capable of double-stinting. After two stints of 23 laps each, Hirschi handed the car over to Hartley who headed out onto the track with a set of new hard tyres. More than 48 seconds behind the race leader, Hartley began his charge and closed the gap down at around four seconds a lap.
With 45 minutes remaining, Hartley was hot on the heels of both the first and second place cars and just five seconds separated them. As Hartley applied pressure to the second place car, it lost its nerve and took a spin. Moments later he made an impressive move on the leader to put the #18 at the front of the race.
The final pit of the race took place and another faultless stop from the Murphy Prototypes team ensured Hartley emerged in third place and, after all the cars had pitted he was back in the lead; the position he held until the chequered flag.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win a European Le Mans Series race,” commented Hartley. “It was a really good race following a tough qualifying session. The race wasn’t as straight-forward as it may seem, though. We had brake issues and were only braking on the front right which did damage to the left-hand tyre. It got pretty close in the last few laps and, I’ve got to admit, I had a bead of sweat on my forehead. All the boys at Murphy Prototypes deserve this; they’ve worked so hard for the last 18 months to get here.”
Hirschi added: “It was difficult to start but I did good first stint. The team had a great strategy and it worked perfectly. They were clever in that they asked me to come a little earlier than predicted so that when I went back out I battled for second place and won. The problem with brakes meant that on the tighter corners I couldn’t brake properly. I stayed out and kept pushing as hard as I could while keeping the car safe. I handed over to Brendon and he finished off the job. “It’s a great feeling and it’s been a long time coming. My last race
win was in 2009 so I’m really happy. To win the last race of the year makes the winter season much easier!”
Team owner Greg Murphy added: “It’s an incredible feeling to win here at Paul Ricard! The team deserves this so much. I’ve worked hard to build a team of the top people in the business including Malcolm
Swetnam, Alan McGarrity, Michael Jakeman and Lee Penn, to name a few, and this is proof that together we’ve achieved something to be really proud of. It’s a great way to end the year and sets us up for a successful 2014