The ByKolles privateer squad has hailed last weekend’s Spa round of the World Endurance Championship as its “best ever performance” in the LMP1 ranks.
ByKolles Racing head of operations Boris Bermes made the claim after its ENSO CLM-Gibson P1/01 driven by Tom Dillmann, Oliver Webb and Bruno Spengler outpaced privateer rival Rebellion during the wet conditions over the opening hours of the Spa 6 Hours on Saturday.
The car was able to maintain third position behind the two Toyota TS050 HYBRID factory cars until just before the halfway mark of the race.
The step-up in performance for a team that was returning to the WEC for the first time since last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours followed a development programme focussed on the car’s aerodynamics and reliability.
“The performance was really good at the beginning and we were able to pull away from the Rebellion,” Bermes told Autosport.
“The car performed better than ever, Tom did an amazing job and we made some good decisions on strategy.”
Dillmann added that he was “really happy with the performance”.
“The car has always been good in the rain and I like the wet, but it was impressive that we could pull away from the Rebellion and be not that much slower than the Toyotas when it was really wet,” said the Frenchman.
Bermes also pointed to a sequence of the race when the car was running just ahead of leader Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota.
Webb, who was in the car at the time, said: “Normally when the team come on the radio and say, ‘Toyota five seconds behind’, it’s past you in a couple of laps.
“This time, it didn’t come past for six or so laps.
“It was a great feeling to have the team telling me that only Brendon Hartley [in the #8 Toyota] was faster.”
The updates to the ENSO CLM, which first raced back in 2014, include revised front-end aerodynamics and a new rear deck designed to reduce drag without sacrificing downforce.
The car was running in a compromised low-downforce Le Mans spec at the weekend, whereas the Rebellion-Gibson R-13 that struggled in the rain was in high-downforce trim.
Bermes admitted to disappointment that the ByKolles entry was unable to continue its strong form over the second half of the race.
The car lost time late in the third hour when it needed attention to one of the FIA sensors that LMP1 cars run.
An electrical problem that resulted in a fuel pick-up problem subsequently forced the team to cut short its stints.
The car was running fifth in the final hour when a broken exhaust lambda sensor brought Spengler into the pits for repairs.
Spengler returned to the track for five laps, allowing the team to register a finish in 27th position.
The best result for the ENSO CLM, which was powered by AER and then Nissan engines before the switch to the Gibson, is fourth place at Spa in May 2018.