19|09|2016 - 6 HOURS OF THE CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
Promising weekend ends in frustration for Merhi.
LONDON, 19th SEPTEMBER 2016
Roberto Merhi and his Manor FIA World Endurance Championship teammates were ultimately left disappointed this weekend after the #44 car was forced to retire from the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas.
Roberto and the Manor team had showed excellent pace all weekend in overwhelmingly hot conditions but were forced to retire from Saturday’s showpiece after sustaining severe suspension damage.
The weekend started in positive fashion for the team as they performed strongly in qualifying despite it being the first time that both Roberto and teammate, Matt Rao, had driven on the track. Roberto and Matt demonstrated that experience was not vital however as they secured a P2 finish in Friday’s qualifying.
This marked the team’s best qualifying session of the year and after the session Roberto was ecstatic to be starting Saturday’s race from the front row.
“I am really happy with today as it is the best qualifying for us so far this year and the first time we have been on the front row of LMP2. The car has improved since the Nürburgring and I feel more comfortable in it. I only had the opportunity for one lap which was difficult but I managed to achieve a good enough lap. I am looking forward to the race and hoping for our best result this year.”
Therefore, Roberto and the team went into Saturday’s race with hopes high of challenging at the very front of the field. These hopes were heightened further as Roberto made an excellent start to the race, moving up to P1 on the very first lap.
After swapping earlier with his teammate, Roberto returned to the car later delivering a double-stint leaving the car in P2 yet again. Unfortunately, soon after the next driver change, a Ford GT made contact with the car which lost them some ground in the battle at the front. Despite returning to the race in P4, the team made the decision to retire from the race after sustaining sever suspension damage.
Although happy with the pace that he was able to show throughout the weekend, Roberto was eventually left disappointed with the weekend’s result.
“The start was really good. I was into first just after the first corner. But during the traffic I lost the lead and was into P2. When I came in for my first stop we were in a good position close to the lead. When I came back into the car I had strong pace and felt comfortable in the car. I am disappointed with the result as I think we showed the pace for a podium this weekend.”
Manor President and Sporting Director, Graeme Lowdon shared in Roberto’s disappointment.
“We can take a lot of positives away from Austin. I am pleased that the brake problems that have robbed us of so many good finishes have been solved. That has allowed us to focus on performance again and the team have showed that we can run consistently in the podium positions. It is a shame we had contact from another car during the race because I think we had a good finishing position on the cards which would have been a reward for all the hard work that the team have put in.”
The next stop for the FIA World Endurance Championship is the 6 Hours of Fuji in Japan on the 16th of October.