Test Day signals the start of KCMG’s Le Mans return
May 26, 2014 by Leo Nulty
After their historic debut in 2013, KC Motorgroup Ltd (KCMG) returns to France in June for the 82nd edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours. In preparation for the world’s greatest endurance race the squad – which became the first Chinese outfit ever to compete there 12 months ago – travels to Circuit de la Sarthe next weekend (June 1) for the event’s official Test Day.
Although teams and drivers have been preparing for many months, the Test Day signals the unofficial start of Le Mans with two days of administrative checks and scrutineering taking place on May 30/31, followed by two four-hour test sessions on June 1. With the unique 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe comprising a mixture of permanent race track and public roads, this will be the only chance for teams to hone their set-ups ahead of race week.
KCMG’s strong start to this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship campaign suggests they should be amongst the front-runners at Le Mans, the only double points-paying race on the WEC calendar. Indeed, its Nissan-powered Oreca 03 LMP2, driven by Richard Bradley, Alexandre Imperatori and Matt Howson, currently sits second overall after two rounds.
Imperatori and Howson made their Le Mans debuts last year when KCMG set the historic milestone of becoming the first Chinese team to ever participate in the legendary test of endurance. Unfortunately, a damaged fuel cell forced them into retirement after an otherwise impressive 19 hours, which included leading the race.
Meanwhile Bradley, who will be making his Le Mans debut on June 14/15, is no stranger to success with KCMG after helping to claim their first WEC pole position with Imperatori at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month. The 22-year-old Briton also represented the team at the World Championship’s six-hour round in Japan last year and, most notably, was part of its winning line-up at the 3 Hours of Fuji Asian Le Mans Series race last season.
Richard Bradley: “To race at the Le Mans 24 Hours is something I’ve been aiming for since 1999. This is the event I’ve been most looking forward to since I joined KCMG for their 2014 WEC campaign. It will be my first time competing in a 24-hour race or driving an LMP2 in the dark, but I’m ready to tackle the new challenge that lies ahead. Judging by our performance at Silverstone and Spa – where we managed to secure our first pole position – we have a good chance of scoring a strong result at Le Mans.”
Matt Howson: “We head into our second Le Mans 24 Hours with a great deal of expectation. The Oreca chassis has been superb on shorter circuits, which along with our better understanding of the Dunlop tyres, gives us reason to be confident of challenging for LMP2 victory this season. Last year’s Le Mans winners only narrowly beat us in the first two WEC rounds, but we’re well aware the circuit is unique so we must tune the car for the long straights and low grip levels. Racing alongside Alex again will be a pleasure, and we’ll both help Richard as much as possible as he experiences Le Mans for the first time.”
Alexandre Imperatori: “I can’t wait to be back at Le Mans for the 24-hour race. It’s one of those places that has such a special feel to it and we are all very eager to again measure ourselves against such a massive challenge! We arrive much better prepared than last year and on the back of strong displays in the first two WEC rounds, so we’re aiming for a strong finish. Nonetheless, I will never forget how tall an order it is to be successful at this event. We have a healthy amount of respect for the track and are acutely aware of how strong the competition is in LMP2. With the whole team, and particularly Matt and Richard, we are doing everything we can to make China proud in this world class event!”
Paul Ip, KCMG Managing Director: “The Le Mans 24 Hours is the highlight of KCMG’s calendar and we have been carefully planning and preparing our return to Circuit de la Sarthe this year. The competition is very tight in the LMP2 class but, so far, we have produced encouraging results during the first two WEC events in the Oreca 03. With a strong driver line-up and a competitive package, the entire team is confident of a successful outing at Le Mans in June.”
KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) is an international motorsport services group established in 2007 by Paul Ip. The group, with its headquarters located in Hong Kong, has operations reaching across the Asia Pacific region. KCMG operates closely with many partner companies and racing organisations around the world to provide unrivalled Motorsport Services, Equipment, Team Management and quality distributorship in the Automotive Industry. 2013 saw KCMG become the first Chinese outfit ever to race at the world famous Le Mans 24 Hours in its 90 year history, and 12 months later they’re back as part of an assault on the FIA World Endurance Championship.