Darren Manning’s mid-season excursion away from American Indycar racing and into European Le Mans Series competition has begun with a success – a fourth place at the Nurburgring, seconds short of his team’s first podium.
The Englishman temporarily traded in his AJ Foyt Racing machine for the #46 WF01 Zytek LMP2 entry of Embassy Racing – the team he also turned out for during last season’s championship.
Partnering Joey Foster, he took fourth in class and 11th overall around the 5km Eiffel Mountain Circuit.
He said: “I had run at the Ring in my F-3000 days so I was familiar with the track even though they had changed it up a bit since the last time I raced there.
“I started off driving, doing a one-hour stint and then turning it over to my team-mate for his stint. Halfway through my second stint, I started to get a puncture on my right-front tyre so we pitted early and changed tyres and drivers. Joey did two hours and then I did about 2.5 hours to finish the race. Our car was very reliable. It was a great milestone for the team.”
It was a welcome boost for a team that hasn’t had the best of seasons: “The Embassy Racing team designed and built their own LMP2 chassis over the winter, but they ran into trouble with one of their suppliers so they didn’t get in all of the pre-season testing that they had planned. There were some glitches that the team had to work through during the season.”
Embassy Racing principal Jonathan France said: “It has been a fantastic race for us. We had the pace to mix it at the front of the LMP2 class all the way to the end and even with a few laps remaining we felt we could still push on for the podium. It was totally enthralling – a brilliant race and I am delighted for the whole team that we have finally achieved the results we knew we were capable of.”
Manning returns to the team for the final race of the season, at Silverstone on September 14. In between he will be in action in the IRL, starting this weekend wih the Grand Prix of Sonoma County at the Infineon Raceway.