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Charlie Martin climbs the podium in Le Mans

"Being on the podium here was such an incredibly proud moment for me, during pride month" - Charlie Martin and teammate Jason Keats secured a second-place finish in the LC Cup category at the Le Mans round of Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe, overcoming a challenging start to the weekend with a strong race performance and strategic driving.

Charlie Martin, Jason Keats, Brutal Fish Racing, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe 2024, Le Mans
Photo credits: Fotospeedy / Andrea Sciarra

Charlie Martin returned to the podium in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe, with a superb performance in the first and sole race of the weekend at the legendary Circuit de La Sarthe which saw the British racer and her teammate Jason Keats collecting a second place finish in the LC Cup category.

In her second season of the European Lamborghini one-make series, Martin and Keats made significant progress and took a breakthrough victory at the season opener in Imola, as the duo survived extreme weather conditions and made the most of a perfect strategy call to win the opening race in the LC Cup class, as well as a remarkable eighth place overall.

In the second round at Spa, Martin had to take on driving duties for both races, as Keats was unable to take part in qualifying and races. This translated in a start from the back for Charlie, who nevertheless fought her way up the field and came home with another class podium and P23 overall in a 53 car field.

Le Mans was next - undoubtedly the most anticipated round on the calendar for every driver of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo, hosting its first ever round in support of the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans: the third round, again ran in conjunction with the FIA WEC, would in fact be contested on the famous 13.6 km circuit, in yet another +50 car grid.

After the first four races, six points separated Charlie Martin from the lead in LC Cup, as she returned to alternate behind the wheel of the Brutal Fish Racing operated Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 with Jason Keats.

It would be Charlie's second time at Le Mans, although the first one on the full course, having previously raced on the Bugatti circuit layout, securing a third place in a Norma prototype in the 2017 Trophée Tourisme Endurance.

"To be honest, that was the moment when I was standing on the podium there and I felt like, okay, this is it. I have to try and get to Le Mans for real", Charlie told us.

"At that moment in my life, it felt like a sign. So to come back here this time driving the full course, it's been amazing".

The Le Mans round for Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe was in full swing early on in the week, with a 45 minute practice session on Wednesday, while the qualifying sessions (two sessions of 20 minutes each) took place in the afternoon. Two races were scheduled, for a running time of 45 minutes instead of the standard 50 minute duration per each race.

Charlie Martin's weekend, though, was off to a rocky start, as the duo lost valuable track time in a disrupted practice that left the #54 Osom-sponsored Huracan without representative lap time after only two laps completed.

"It's been a very challenging sort of start to Le Mans, because we had such a short practice, only 45 minutes", Charlie explained. "And that meant that I had just two complete laps, also under slow zones - so I didn't even get to drive properly on every corner."

"Even so, coming into qualifying, I had two full speed flying laps", she continued. "The first one got deleted, unfortunately for track limits at Tetre Rouge."

Her first timed lap would have been a 2m07, fast enough for third. Martin then clocked a 4:12.856 which placed her fifth on the grid.

"And then on the final lap, another driver tried to overtake me at the final chicane", she recalled, as she was further improving on her lap time, "and hit me from behind and put me backwards in the gravel. So it was not a great start coming into the race with so little time under us."

Keats had also set the fifth fastest time in Q1, with a 4:18.516 that nevertheless set a good foundation for the first race on Thursday's afternoon.

And indeed the opening race at Le Mans proved to be a thrilling and chaotic event, with dramatic moments unfolding throughout the 50-car field. As the cars took off from the grid, the action was intense: the first lap saw the deployment of three slow zones as multiple cars veered off the track. Jason Keats had taken on driving duties for the start and was flawless in avoiding the chaos unfolding ahead of him.

After three laps, Keats was maintaining a solid position, holding P7 in his class with consistent lap times. Despite the race continuing to be incident-filled, Keats managed to keep his composure and performed steadily, picking up positions. Abkhazava was forced out of the race early after being punted off at the Dunlop chicane, resulting in a puncture that ended his day.

Charlie Martin, Jason Keats, Brutal Fish Racing, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe 2024, Le Mans
Photo credits: Andres Pardo Gomez

The pit window opened at the end of lap 4, and Keats took the opportunity to pit from his seventh place in LC Cup. The Brutal Fish Racing crew executed a flawless pit stop, and Charlie Martin took over the #54 Lamborghini. As Martin rejoined, further drama unfolded on the track: Bonduel, who was leading, suffered a puncture on the Mulsanne straight, scattering debris and creating a hazardous situation.

Race control decided to wait until all pit stops were completed before deploying additional slow zones, but the track conditions continued to deteriorate. More tyre issues arose, with Riegel experiencing a significant puncture on the straight down to Indianapolis, with more debris being scattered.

As the race progressed, the first lap after the pit stops was marked by another incident: Ojjeh had a huge crash at the exit of the Porsche curves, allowing Charlie Martin to capitalize and gain several positions; she made her way up to P4 with a strong and consistent run.

Charlie then found herself locked in a battle with Hernandez, trying to secure a podium position: with one and a half laps remaining, she attempted had good exits out of the chicanes but struggled to find a way past among a sea of carbon debris and blown up tyres which made her extra cautious.

In the closing stages, she finally managed to pass Hernandez for third place at Indianapolis. A little further ahead, the race took another dramatic turn as Harmsen went off track, promoting Martin to second place on the final lap. She now trailed the class leader, Biglieri, by 19 seconds.

"The race, as it turned out, went pretty well for us", she summed up. "Jason did a great job at the start and kept us out of trouble. And then I took over, managed to get past Hernandez. I stuck behind him for a few laps and it was very tricky because of all the tyres exploding."

"There was so much debris and carbon coming down the Mulsanne straight as you came out of chicanes, you effectively had one very thin line", the British racer continued. "So I'd come into the chicane, get a really good exit, but then I'd have to just tuck in behind him because to go offline, you'd be just probably going to pick up a puncture. And knowing we have had all the problems already this weekend, I just didn't want to risk anything."

"So I managed to make a good move on him coming into Indianapolis, threw it up the inside. And then I think on the final lap, one of the guys ahead spun and we moved up into second place."

As the chequered flag waved, Charlie Martin and Jason Keats crossed the finish line in second place in their class, wrapping up a remarkable drive and a well-earned podium finish - the third of their campaign.

"Being on the podium here was such an incredibly proud moment for me, during pride month", Charlie said, whose on-track success also represents an important platform to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ and transgender rights.

"I packed the pride flag in my bag, and I was really hoping that I would get a chance to celebrate with it. And it really means a lot. It really, really meant a lot."

The second race of the weekend was supposed to take place on Saturday morning, but safety issues prevented the start of the second contest. The fourth round will take place at Nürburgring, on 26-28 July.



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