Zytek Victory at World Championship Race May 7th, 2012
A frenetic battle during this weekend’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps has resulted in a last minute but well deserved victory for Zytek. The Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan Z11SN of Sam Hancock and Simon Dolan fought hard to win the LMP2 class, often leading the field. Having been in front for a large proportion of the race, the Jota team found itself in second place with approximately 50 minutes of the race remaining. However, after the leader pitted for a splash and dash with five minutes to go the Jota powered Zytek-Nissan took the lead and eventually the chequered flag. This was the first prototype victory for the Kent based squad.
Spa, the second round of the new World Endurance Championship, attracted a large and high class LMP2 field. Included were the Zytek of last year’s Le Mans LMP2 winner Greaves Motorsport and the car entered by Jota, Zytek’s first ever chassis customer returning to the prototype ranks for this season. Also present were two Gulf-Lola LMP2s powered by Zytek Nissan engines.
The heavy rain of the morning had stopped by the time the race got underway with Sam quickly moving the Jota Zytek up into third in class. As the early rounds of pits stops commenced so the leading positions fluctuated but, inexorably, he worked his way to the front during the second hour. Over the next four hours the lead would change back and forth but always with the Z11SN in contention.
The Zytek’s fuel efficiency allowed the team to keep the car out longer, with Simon moving up into the top 10 overall as he regained the lead. A sterling drive by him meant that he was able to hand the car back to Sam still in front. With his fastest lap up to then, Sam started to ease away but the team was almost immediately given a 30 second “stop and go” penalty for speeding in the pit lane. That put him back into second place but the determined Hancock then began to put in some of his fastest sectors in the race. As the leader pitted, so he moved back into the lead.
Still, it was not finished. In the final hour, former Zytek driver Robbie Kerr in the second placed Oreca stopped for fuel only. That meant a shorter halt and he slipped ahead of Simon who was now back in the Zytek. For a while Simon, who was driving magnificently, pegged back that lead but then Robbie managed to re-establish his hold. With just six minutes to go it seemed all over, but then the Oreca dashed into the pit lane. Before it could rejoin the track Simon was back in front for a narrow yet well deserved six-second victory.
The Greaves Zytek Z11SN of Christian Zugel, Ricardo Gonzalez and Elton Julian finished seventh of the 18-strong LMP2 entry. After an early “off”, the team mechanics conducted some brilliant teamwork to change the Zytek’s quick release rear end in double quick time. This saw the car claw its way back from 15th to eventually finish seventh in the class, but more importantly third place amongst the WEC LMP2 regulars.
Another previous Zytek driver Stefan Johansson was part of the driver line up that brought one of the Zytek Nissan powered Gulf Lolas home for a well-deserved second place WEC LMP2 finish.
Jim Hibbert Zytek’s Chassis/Sportscar Manager commented, “After last year’s success this weekend proved, once again, that the Zytek Z11SN is a force to be reckoned with. This result is testament to all the hard work that the teams and our Zytek personnel (both at the circuit and at the factory) have put in over the last few months. Our close relationship with both Greaves and Jota has resulted in a car that we are very proud of and we go to Le Mans ready for the next challenge.”