Confusion reigns after race one of the Road to Le Mans support race

Friday, June 14, 2024


Another race within the Michelin Le Mans Cup Road to Le Mans supporting programme sadly descended into something the event certainly was not intended to be last night, with the issues on track starting even before the first racing lap had been completed.

With the fifty-five-minute (or thirteen lap) race tripping the race clock at the start of the fifty-eight strong grid’s warm up/formation lap, the LMP3 pack were only halfway around their opening race lap when the first yellow flag was thrown for two of them who found themselves now stranded within the gravel at differing parts of the circuit. Original covered by a Slow Zone, the Safety Car was quickly called to action as the debris was removed.

Having started on GT3 Pole Position, the #95 Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 of Derek DeBoer and Valentin Hasse-Clot had already been mugged of their track position but was still circulating within the top five in class whilst the two Blackthorn AMR’s were still towards the rear of the pack after their qualifying efforts.

With the race leaders and front end of the GT3 class already having passed pit in, the three of the last few cars including the two Blackthorn cars pitted for their driver change alongside that of the #82 Ferrari and one LMP3. That allowed both Claude Bovet and Martin Berry to swap out to David McDonald and Lorcan Hanafin within the #90 and #91 cars respectively.

Next time around, the remainder of those still circulating pitted for the same which of course elevated the #82, #90 and #91 cars to the front of the race as they quickly caught up upon the rear of the Safety Car train with the #95 RSLM car a distant fifth in class.

Next time around it was back to green for only the second full speed lap of the race as race laps changed to just seventeen minutes remaining. Holding their own until the Mulsanne Straight, the three GT3 cars were soon passed by the LMP3 leaders.

Just as these leaders entered the Porsche Curves for the next time of asking, the race was red flagged for a horrific looking incident for the #9 LMP3 car that saw the car punch a huge hole through the circuit guardrail before coming to a half in tatters on the track. Mercifully, the driver extricated himself from the car (otherwise reasonably OK) but the race was rightly stopped but with no chance of a restart.

This situation left the two Blackthorn Aston Martins in class holding podium positions in P2 and P3 behind the #82 Ferrari (on paper at least), but Race Control would have other ideas on that. Originally docked a lap, the two Blackthorn cars were soon relegated to the rear of the GT3 pack with the #95 RSLM car scooping an unexpected P2 finish behind the #12 Ferrari as a result of that.

After the podium celebrations to that effect, the order was again changed again but with the #91 Blackthorn car being placed at P4 in class on countback and the #95 RSLM car down to P5. The #90 Blackthorn car would get a ten second time penalty added for an incorrect starting position that would place them down in P10.

Hopefully, tomorrows second and final race of their weekend will prove more fruitful and how it was intended to be ahead of the start to this years 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Photo credits – Team / Series / social media
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