We sat down with Clearwater Racing’s Matt Griffin after Quali 1 to chat about the first 2 sessions of the week and his hopes for the final qualifying sessions, and of course the race!
During practice there were struggles with over steer and a general lack of pace which had been carried through from test day, this may have been in part due to the engine: “When we reviewed the data we saw the previous engine was quite high on mileage, when turbo engines get high on mileage they tend to underperform, we tried to find some speed when maybe we didn’t need too”. The team made quite a lot of changes to the engine and front brakes from the set up used in the test, however these did not work on the car so the team have reverted to the test day setup.
Qualifying at Le Mans is slightly less important with the race being run over 24 hours, however there is an obvious desire to qualify the car as high as possible: “I had a really good lap in qualifying, I missed Bertolini by 3 tenths and had a lot of traffic on the lap, the speed is there from our car, it looks like the Astons are a little bit up the road at the moment, Pedro did a good lap in qualifying”. Matt continued: “The first Ferrari was almost a second off what he (Pedro) did but quali and race pace are two different things, Le Mans is very much about what you can try to do as a collective”.
The team is going to take another run at qualifying tonight: “It would be nice if I got lucky and got a tow, I think that is a big advantage here, it didn’t quite work out for me yesterday”.
Teams running at Le Mans typically have 3 drivers taking turns (called stints) in the car, generally for 1 hour at a time these can be run one after another - with this in mind we asked what challenges if any does the team face in setting the car up for 3 drivers. Matt says: “[It’s] Not too bad on balancing a car for 3 different drivers, I get a little bit of free rein with the car, Weng (Sun Mok) says set up the car, make it fast and give it to me, that’s the kind of ethos. Myself and Dario (Technical Director) will work for a few hours today to see if we can make any improvements”.
With the teams having to provide their tyre choice prior to the event due to logistics, Clearwater Racing have gone for the new Michelin super soft option: “The Michelin tyre is fantastic, its an amazing product”. Matt goes on to say: “Obviously no one expected the temperature to be like this, and yesterday in practice definitely we were struggling with tyre temp, it was too high and we were getting thermal degradation on the tyre wear, it begins to melt and lose grip but we made some adjustments on the car to try and make it a bit easier on the tyre and generate less heat, but when you’re talking about track temps of almost 50degs its very very hard”.
In closing Matt finishes by saying: “I’m a little bit disappointed about being 6th from a position point of view, but I’m happy with the car and I’m happy with the step we made from practice to qualifying for sure, I’m really happy with that”.
With two more qualifying sessions remaining today, by midnight French time will will know who is going to start on pole in the GTE AM class, be sure to keep an eye on our Twitter feed @FromTheTribune or search for the hashtag #CWRLM24 for regular updates.