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Jun 18, 2014 - 05:26 PM
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Pumpelly Hangs on for Seventh at Le Mans
Posted by: newsla on Jun 18, 2014 - 05:25 PM
Le Mans News
Pumpelly Hangs on for Seventh at Le Mans


In his third trip to France’s legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, Spencer Pumpelly finished seventh in the No. 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia with co-drivers Seth Neiman and Abdulaziz Alfaisa.

 

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For Pumpelly and team, the event began more than a week before the green flag, with official scrutineering taking place Sunday, June 8, in the city center. It wasn’t until Wednesday, June 11, that the No. 66 first took to the 8.469-mile course made up of numerous public roads. After three rounds of qualifying over two days, the trio put the Ferrari 10th on the GTE-Am grid with a lap of 3:57.757.

“I’d never driven a Ferrari before our first test day with JMW Motorsport at Snetterton in May,” Pumpelly said. “But having driven Porsches for so long and then transitioning to the Audi with Flying Lizard Motorsports, I think I’ve gotten better at understanding what different cars need to go fast. It’s been a really cool process.”

Friday is a day for the teams and drivers to rest and prepare for the long race ahead, but is also the traditional day for the driver parade, where Pumpelly, Neiman and Alfaisa climbed aboard a 1931 Citroen and were chauffeured through the city with the rest of the entrants to the cheers of fans.

For race day, Pumpelly was assigned to start the car and successfully navigated the frantic opening laps without incident. The opening stints for co-drivers Neiman and Alfaisa proved to be more cumbersome when two separate and powerful rain storms came through. Though the No. 66 kept its nose pointed straight through the rain, Le Man’s unique safety car system that deploys three separate safety cars, caught the Ferrari with the worst timing. This coupled with the need to keep changing tires with the changing conditions cost the team laps in the early going.

Not helping matters was a brake issue that forced Pumpelly to pit for repairs. Teams will routinely change brakes in a 24-hour race, but this change was only four hours into the race, so the team still needed to pit later for a brake change.

Nearing the end of Pumpelly’s second stint, while cruising behind the safety car, he suspected one of the Ferrari’s tires was going down. The team wasn’t able to confirm his suspicion until the green flag came out and the car was back at full speed. This meant yet another unscheduled pit stop under green.

After handing the car over to Neiman and Alfaisa in the evening, Pumpelly returned for a triple stint in the early hours of morning before sunrise. After three hours rest and another uneventful triple stint he handed the Ferrari back to his teammates to bring it home.

After 24 hours of racing, the team finished seventh in the GTE-Am category. Despite its setbacks early in the race, the JMW Motorsport team soldiered on and moved up three spots from its starting position in a grueling race where it is an achievement in itself to finish.


“I am really impressed with the effort put forth by the JMW Motorsport team,” Pumpelly said. “Le Mans is no ordinary race and we definitely had some trying conditions and situations with the car, but they were prepared and had us running at the finish.

“I am honored to have had this opportunity thanks to Seth and Flying Lizard Motorsports. I really wish we could have gotten Seth on the podium, but I’m hoping we’ll have another opportunity to try again next year.”

Pumpelly now has the week off before resuming his duties behind the wheel of the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen takes place June 27 – 29 at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York. Prior to arriving at the circuit, however, Pumpelly will make his now annual trip to Farm Sanctuary, a charity dedicated to rescuing farm animals.

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