RLR MSport is looking forward to taking its winning form forward into the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring (15-16 May), following an encouraging and productive day of testing at the Austrian circuit.
In the first round of the 2021 season in Barcelona, RLR MSport opened its account with an ELMS podium and victory in the supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup.
In the hands of Malthe Jakobsen, Mike Benham and Alex Kapadia, the #15 Ligier JSP320 possessed great speed, the team’s strategies were on point and each driver contributed fast yet controlled stints at the sharp end of the large, high-quality LMP3 fields.
However, there was still some room for improvement and RLR MSport hasn’t rested on its laurels.
As the Red Bull Ring has been absent from the ELMS calendar since 2018 and Jakobsen has zero experience of the circuit, the Motul-powered team ventured out to Austria early for a day of in-season testing.
Jakobsen, who last week earned his road license, shared the driving with Am teammate Benham, building on their Barcelona baseline, refining the #15 Ligier’s setup while learning the track in dry conditions, although inclement weather is in the weekend forecast.
Trouble-free and productive, testing has given RLR MSport cause for optimism, and Jakobsen said: “Testing went well because Mike (Benham) and I got in quite a lot of laps and found a good setup that should be very effective during the race weekend. It’s my first time at the Red Bull Ring so I’m really pleased I had the opportunity to learn the circuit and get some setup work done before free practice, because I’ll now be able to push straight away.
“I’m 100 per cent sure we have the best LMP3 car on the grid and I’m just as confident that all three drivers have the quality to race at the very front, but the ELMS 4 Hours of Barcelona showed the importance of driving a clean race, so that has to be the aim this weekend.”
Benham added: “Testing at the Red Bull Ring was pretty good, although without live timings it’s difficult to know for sure how we stacked up against the other two teams present. The more laps the better, and because it’s a short circuit, tiny fractions of a second are worth a lot more than at other tracks like Spa-Francorchamps.
“RLR MSport completely understands the Ligier JSP320 and the team set the car up really well before we even turned a wheel in testing, so we hit the ground running. Of course, while the season began well in Barcelona, we can’t take anything for granted and must keep our heads down to get the job done in Austria.”
Kapadia said: “I think we’re in good shape and fairly well prepared ahead of the ELMS 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring. RLR MSport has been testing there with Malthe (Jakobsen) and Mike (Benham) in the dry, which is great, and I believe we will once again be one of the top two or three LMP3 line-ups going into the weekend. Because the Red Bull Ring is more compact than Barcelona, there’s more traffic to deal with and it places more of an emphasis on executing neatly and staying clean. We’re at the stage where we’re only looking for small gains, and if we’re able to improve fractionally everywhere, we’ll be incredibly strong.”