A great vintage in Portimão for the Lamera Cup

25 crews, a smooth race at the end of which Team Lamera triumphed after having been under pressure for a long time. Competitors delighted to taste the pleasure of driving in a good-natured spirit. No doubt: the 2023 edition of the longest endurance race in the world was a great vintage.

Published on 05/09/2023 à 12:00

Dominique Dricot

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A great vintage in Portimão for the Lamera Cup

© Lamera Cup

By watching high-level competitions via our small screens, we sometimes tend to forget that motorsport is above all a matter for amateurs. In the noble sense of the term. People who have fun surpassing themselves, often in a good-natured spirit. It is precisely this DNA that drives the Lamera Cup, a monarch cup created 11 years ago and whose highlight, now, is a 26-hour event on the exceptional route of Portimão (Portugal).

« It's a treat for everyone, says Christophe Bouchut (see box), who has traveled on practically every circuit in the world. QWhether you are extremely efficient or a beginner, this circuit provides exceptional sensations. It is very hilly and many of the turns are blind. Which makes driving very technical. As it is a modern circuit that has grown out of the middle of nowhere in a gigantic space, it is particularly safe with impressive clearances ».

So much for the decor. Players ? Enthusiasts who have been wearing their fireproof suits in a bucket for decades and novices, rookies who join the troop thanks to the kindness of the elders. Beginners are taken care of at the start of the weekend by experienced pilots who supervise them and reassure them with their advice. Then they happily snort around the track under the watchful eye of the race management responsible for enforcing the regulations. Particularly in terms of “extended” trajectories. What is pronounced “track limits” on most circuits around the world is pronounced “non-respect of the race route” in the poetic language of the Lamera Cup.

The scenario ? Both limpid and breathtaking. From qualifying, we understood that the fight for victory would take on the appearance of a duel between the No. 1 car (Team Lamera) and the No. 73 (L'Auto Leclerc). This was confirmed in the Super Pole exercise where Pierre Couasnon relegated Emmanuel Orgeval, his most dangerous rival, to 0”749.

Once the start was given, these two crews put on a show with, however, an advantage on Team Lamera's side. “ Don't think it was an easy victory, explained Thomas Merafina, the author of the last relay. For a long time, the 73 put us under pressure. We knew that at the slightest deviation on our part, she would seize command. It was only in the last hour that the situation settled and we were able to manage our lead. »

And for good reason... A mechanical problem forced the rival to go to the pits. “ The left rear wheel studs broke suddenly, said Kevin Caprasse. Despite the rapid intervention of the mechanics, this repair cost us 2e place. Without this problempine, however, I am not convinced that we could have worried the winners who delivered an exemplary performance from start to finish. A big tip of the hat to them. As for us, we slipped to 3e rank since crew n°35 (ETC Racing, Editor’s note) were on our heels ».

Beyond this trio made up of Elite category drivers, other performances should be highlighted. Like this very beautiful 4e place in the general classification and the first in ProAm of the car n°15 (Race Track Competition), as well as the 10e final position, enhanced by the victory, among the Gentlemen, of the Lamera n°59 (GDM Racing 2).

But seeing the smiles, the pats on the back, the hugs and the frank handshakes at the end of the race, it was above all amateur motorsport which emerged victorious from this weekend in the Algarve.

The tireless Christophe Bouchut, 13 hours behind the wheel

At 56 years old, and despite an impressive track record, the winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1993 retains a youthful enthusiasm and a resistance to fatigue that would make a young gym-goer go pale.

Thus, Christophe was divided, throughout the Portuguese weekend, between the No. 1 Lamera which triumphed and the No. 77 guinea pig equipped with the 4-cylinder engine which will power the cars next year. “ I'm not the only one who went from one car to another, says he. The other members of the victorious crew also completed laps at the wheel of our laboratory car, the performance of which was not included in the final ranking. For my part, I carried out six stints on the Lamera which triumphed and 7 on the No. 77. If I imagine that each time I was on the track for around an hour, that gives me 13 hours of lap time on this magnificent circuit. Note that this is not my personal best. A few years ago, when the regulations on this subject were less strict, I drove a prototype for 16 hours at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. ».

As for the overall performance of No. 77, Christophe considers it very satisfactory. “ The final classification rightly gives us a pit stop of 15h25 minutes. In fact, as we had to constantly switch from one car to another, we logically preferred to concentrate on the car in the lead and leave the experimental car in the garage for part of the race. It doesn't matter: we saw what we wanted to see. The 4-cylinder which was plagued by overheating problems at Castellet at the beginning of July no longer encountered this problem in Portimão. The car that will be used by all competitors next year (with a notable power gain and weight saving. Editor’s note) is progressing well in terms of reliability. Of course, we will continue to develop it during the last two meetings in Dijon (October 19-21) and Valencia (Spain, November 11-12).”

ALSO READ > An indisputable victory for Team Lamera at the 26 Hours of Portimão

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