The boss of historic racing specialist Pearsons Enginering gives his verdict on Stratstone's Jaguar Lightweight E-type, after an impressive debut in the Jaguar Classic Challenge race at Le Mans Classic.
In terms of pace, the Stratstone Lightweight E-type is clearly quick - P5 in qualifying, and running top-three against some serious cars on its racing debut
We're delighted with how well the Lightweight E-type performed on its first time out. The front-running cars in the Jaguar Classic Challenge are all well developed C-types, D-types and E-types, with a fair amount of racing experience, and drivers behind the wheel who know the cars well. They've all got good setups and really strongly tuned engines whereas Stratstone's Lightweight E-type is only in its first race. It's fresh out of the box, yet it was outperforming most of them.
How happy have you been with how the car performed on track?
In terms of handling, the Lightweight E-type is superb. The suspension and brakes feel good, and Chris was extremely positive. The only thing we're missing is a little bit of top-end power, which is really important on the long straights that are unique to the Le Mans track. The 3.8-litre straight-six XK engine in the Lightweight E-type is a fantastically good all-round unit, with lots of mid-range torque. But, for Le Mans, we just need a bit more power at the top-end, which comes with higher-lift camshafts and more compression. That extra bit of power is probably the tiny difference between fifth-place and third-place on the grid at Le Mans.
In the race, Chris seemed was keeping up with the leaders fairly easily
When you start scrapping with people - especially people who you haven't raced against before - it's easy to lose time while everyone is getting up to speed. Equally, you've got drivers such as Martin Stretton and Andy Wallace who know their way around Le Mans extremely well, and are really familiar with their cars. So, Chris was doing extremely well to be running closely with them for the first few laps.
So, a disappointing finish, but Lightweight E-type No. 15 clearly has plenty of promise
Considering the short timescale that all of use have had to take the car from 'factory-fresh and prepare it for its race debut, we're really positive about how it performed. When I gave the car the shakedown at Donington Park, I was very enthused by how well it handled. Here at Le Mans, it was up against a lot of very well-prepared and well-driven race cars, but was running in front of most of them. So, we're really pleased with that. The build quality done by Jaguar is fantastic - it's an absolutely beautiful car. When you take it racing, though, you learn a few lessons about how it performs when it's pushed hard on the track, and Le Mans is one of the most challenging places that you can bring a car to and race it for the very first time. The more you run these cars, the better they get, so we're pretty confident that the next time this car comes out to race, it will continue to be a frontrunner.