Privateer hero Schiatarella confident of pole

Team Rafanelli, the plucky privateer outfit that has taken the fight to the works teams in the ALMS, will be in the hunt to start from the top spot at Le Mans, says driver Mimmo Schiatarella

Privateer hero Schiatarella confident of pole

"At pre-qualifying we were only 1.5 seconds off the Audis. So if the new system is working well, we can fight for the pole, for sure," said the Italian.

Schiatarella took pole at the Silverstone ELMS race, and the team's Lola was fourth behind the Audis at pre-qualifying, and has a new aerodynamic kit tailored to Le Mans. However, the newness of the Le Mans spec parts may prove the team's downfall. Put simply, it has run out of time to test the revisions as exhaustively as it would like.

"That is going to be the biggest problem, because we don't have enough time," admitted the former F1 driver.

"We have a third driver, Emanuele Naspetti, who has not driven the car, and so we must spend an hour just on him, to learn the circuit - and then we have an hour to test the new aerodynamic parts. We don't have enough time, but we'll try to do our best," he added.

The team was allowed by Audi to join the Ingolstadt cars in testing at Magny Cours, and though the track was not ideal for testing the low downforce apparatus, team and drivers declared themselves happy with the results.

"We tried on the straight to see how it was, and it was really not bad. That makes me happy, but we'll see in practice where we are, and how good the car is with the new Lola bits," said Schiatarella.

The pace of the Rafanelli car is not in dispute - at this stage, the only issues influencing the race - and they are large ones, to be sure - are the aforementioned testing shortfall, and reliability. Rafanelli simply has no idea if the car and its Judd engine will last.

"I'm sure if we finish the race, we'll finish on top," claimed Schiatarella, while admitting that it would be a gamble as to whether the car would stay the course.

"I must be honest - I don't know about the reliability of the car, because we haven't simulated a 24-hour race, like Audi and Panoz have. They've done a lot of testing that we haven't - that's why I can't really say if we have reliability, and if we can finish the race.

"I'm sure if we finish the race, we can finish on the podium. Everyone can have problems, Audi too," he added.

For Schiatarella, however, the first hurdle - and one where he can shine brightest, will be qualifying.

"For me, I really want to be fast in qualifying, and show the potential of the car and the team. After that, we'll just try to finish the race," he said. "

We can't test any more, so we'll just have to see what happens."


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