RLR MSport is seeking an incident-free outing in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (18-19 September) that will enable it to fulfil its podium potential.
Clean, untroubled races have been at a premium in 2021; RLR MSport’s pace has been undeniable, and the team’s strategies have been on point, but contact from rivals and ill-timed neutralisations have either led to retirement or compromised its run to top three finishes.
Nevertheless, with two rounds remaining at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, the team and drivers Mike Benham, Alex Kapadia and Malthe Jakobsen remain optimistic.
In fact, the third place Benham and Jakobsen achieved in the 24 Hours of Le Mans-supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup ‘Road to Le Mans’ – their first podium since the opening round of the ELMS in Barcelona – was a timely shot in the arm and suggests their fortunes may have finally taken a turn for the better.
“I’m quite excited to be returning to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps because I’ve always gone well there and I think everyone enjoys the challenge, because it’s very rewarding when you produce good lap times,” said Benham. “After the podium result in the Michelin Le Mans Cup ‘Road to Le Mans’ race, enjoyment is high and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car, testing in changeable conditions, with a forecast that’s constantly shifting.
“Alex (Kapadia), Malthe (Jakobsen) and I all hope for a result that reflects our true potential and the Le Mans result showed we’re more than capable of fighting for podiums when we have a reasonable qualifying and the race goes as planned. RLR MSport has always given us a good car, we just need to be able to compete on our own terms.”
Kapadia said: “I always enjoy racing at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and our priority is simply to have a clean race and convert our pace into a truly representative result. We’ve had a lot of speed in every single round so far this season but we haven’t had a trouble-free run, because we keep getting pushed off. I don’t think we need to change our approach and go cautious because then we won’t be quick enough. We have to continue attacking and it will eventually come to us. The bad luck has made this a frustrating season but there are two more races and I’m confident we’re going to be strong.”
Jakobsen added: “After such a good week in the Michelin Le Mans Cup ‘Road to Le Mans’, where Mike (Benham) and I achieved a podium, I believe we will have the same pace again at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. We’ve shown in every European Le Mans Series weekend this year that we have the speed to reach the podium, but we just need a race without any bad luck.
“We can achieve a top three on pure pace alone and I hope our fortunes change this time around. I wouldn’t say we need to do anything different. Qualifying on the front row might help us stay out of trouble but that won’t be a priority at Spa. It’s far more important to have a strong race car and free practice will be about long runs. Having achieved a ‘Road to Le Mans’ podium against tough opposition, it’s a realistic hope.”