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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

"Killing tyres" on damp track cost Cadillac chance at Le Mans victory

Cadillac's Alex Palou and Earl Bamber say tyre struggles in mixed conditions were their "biggest issue" in a Le Mans race they were leading three hours from the chequered flag.

Although it was down in 17th position three hours into the World Endurance Championship's most famous race after qualifying second at the hands of Alex Lynn, the #2 V-Series.R achieved a solid race thereafter.

Despite very unstable weather conditions, there was little trouble to report for the blue Chip Ganassi-run car besides a nose change in the night.

It thus rose to the lead, which it occupied at the 21st hour of the contest – although its strategy was out of sync with its rivals, meaning it often tumbled down the order at pitstops.

However, the #2 Cadillac struggled in the last part of the race, as several showers damped an otherwise slowly drying track, and it finished just seventh, 49 seconds off the race-winning #50 Ferrari.

"Obviously sad that I couldn't fight for the win," Palou told Motorsport.com after his maiden Le Mans 24 Hours race. "We were looking really good, I would say, from ten hours to go. Then even the last two hours.

"Unfortunately, didn't really have the pace we needed at the end. Just struggled a lot with overall grip on the rain and in mixed conditions. A lot of fun, some really good stints, but at the end we didn't really have the pace we needed."

#2 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R: Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Alex Palou

#2 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R: Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, Alex Palou

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Asked if there were things that he and Cadillac could improve based on their performance at Circuit de la Sarthe, Palou replied: "Always! There are always things you can improve on small races, imagine on a 24-hour race! I think everybody feels the same way.

"Just struggled a lot on the mixed conditions. I think we were good on fully wet, good on fully dry, but not great on mixed conditions. We need to see if it was the car set-up, if it was the driving, if it was the BoP that didn't help, so I don't know at the moment, but for sure it wasn't ideal."

Subsequently asked to expand on his feeling in mixed conditions, Palou added: "Just a lack of pace. We couldn't go fast. When we tried and pushed, we were killing the tyres. Normal lack of pace, the car felt okay until we tried too match everybody else's pace, and then we just lost a ton of grip."

Team-mate Earl Bamber, an outright Le Mans winner with Porsche in 2015 and 2017, concurred: "We had a great pace in the dry, but ultimately not the pace in the wet. That's what sort of killed our race at the end there. We were definitely in contention, that's another step closer to the goal."

The other two Cadillacs had a much tougher race, with the #3 car shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Renger van der Zande affected by a terminal oil leak after 18 hours.

It had previously got a drive-through penalty for speeding under full course yellow, and had a trip through the gravel at the hands of Bourdais at Indianapolis corner as well as suffering a whack against the wall by Van der Zande.

Meanwhile, the #311 car entered under the Whelen Cadillac Racing banner had a massive impact against the tyre barrier when Pipo Derani lost control at Indianapolis, all but putting an end to its race.

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