Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and André Negrao extended their lead in the Drivers’ Championship with an upset victory in a thrilling race that was decided under controversial circumstances as the two leading cars went head-to-head with just over a hand. hour to run.
After getting behind the wheel of the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson after the sixth round of pit stops, Vaxiviere quickly dispatched the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Ryo Hirakawa and was then able to catch up with the race at the head of the Kamui Kobayashi’s Toyota No. 7 in no time. .
The French driver raced alongside Kobayashi after getting a great exit from the Parabolica, but the Toyota driver appeared to shift to the right as he approached the first chicane, making contact and suffering heavy damage and a puncture on his the right rear tire of his GR010.
Kobayashi was forced to limp back to the pits for repairs as full yellow was deployed to clear debris from the track, leaving Vaxiviere leading the race.
Hirakawa was right on Vaxiviere’s tail when the action resumed after a relatively brief Full Course Yellow, but the Alpine rider was able to pull away to score Alpine’s second WEC win of the year following his first win in the of the season opener at Sebring.
Hirakawa, Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi were ranked 2.7 seconds behind in second, successfully recovering from an early electrical issue that affected the car’s braking until a full power cycle reset be carried out in the pits.
Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez managed to score solid points in third, two laps behind the winning Alpine, despite Kobayashi picking up a 90-second penalty for his incident with Vaxiviere.
The #7 Toyota could claim the final podium spot as the three remaining competitors in the Hypercar class all ran into trouble, including pole-sitter Glickenhaus.
The American manufacturer was on course for a first WEC victory in the first part of the race after some impressive first stints from Romain Dumas and Pipo Derani, before it was all gone from the team in the third hour.
A passing penalty and subsequent safety car appearance eradicated the nearly 50-second advantage the #708 crew had built up, leaving Olivier Pla at the bottom of the Hypercar field after taking over driving duties.
Pla had little time to regain the lost position as a turbo failure left him with a smoking car, which he took back to the pits for a painful retirement.
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Peugeot was never able to upset its Hypercar rivals as it returned to the pinnacle of motor racing, suffering from both a lack of speed and reliability issues on both cars.
The #93 9X8 of Jean-Eric Vergne, Paul di Resta and Mikkel Jensen couldn’t even complete 30 minutes of racing before crawling to a stop and continuing to experience issues after returning to action.
The #94 sister car ran smoothly for the first half of the race, but also came to a late stop, with Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes and James Rossiter finally finishing 25 laps later on the winning Alpine at the fourth place (and 33rd overall).
WRT winner in LMP2
RealTeam by WRT beat JOTA to emerge victorious in an LMP2 battle that was gutted by a safety car in the third hour.
Ferdinand Habsburg had moved the #31 Oreca 07-Gibson into the lead at the start of the hour after overtaking the #22 United Autosports of Filipe Albuquerque at Turn 1.
The second of the two WRT cars lost control after the safety car but was able to come back close to the front at the last hour, behind the No. 38 JOTA Oreca which had loaded control after starting at the back of the field due to a dangerous pit exit during qualifying.
Both cars headed to the pits at the same time for their final stops, with faster pit work from the JOTA crew allowing Habsburg to skip Will Stevens and take the win for himself, Norman Nato and Rui Andrade.
Stevens, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez eventually finished 12 seconds behind the #38 JOTA, while Vector Sport secured its first podium with Nico Muller, Ryan Cullen and Sébastien Bourdais finishing third in the #10 Oreca.
Several leading LMP2 drivers fell out of favor during the race, including the #22 United Autosports car which suffered mechanical problems, and the second JOTA car which crashed late in the race with Jonathan Aberdein at the flying.
Corvette denies Ferrari home win
#64 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy
Photo by: Paolo Belletti
Corvette took a surprise victory in GTE Pro after Antonio Fuoco was forced to bring the leading #52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo to the pits with just 2.30m to go for a splash-and-dash.
It was Corvette’s first win in the WEC since the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans and its first in a regular six-hour race.
Fuoco and Miguel Molina had inherited the lead from the No. 51 Ferrari on pole position from Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, which was hit with a five-second stop/go penalty in the penultimate hour for not not have transferred data from their car after a pit stop.
Ferrari were apparently on their way to victory on home turf after leading the race from the start until Fuoco’s last-minute stoppage, allowing Corvette pair Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy to steal an unlikely win in the #64 C8.R.
Calado and Pier Guidi finally secured the final seat on the grandstand in third after Pier Guidi emerged on top in a long and arduous battle with Kevin Estre’s #92 Porsche, which involved several instances of contact between the pair.
A drive-through penalty for the #92 car dropped Estre and Michael Christensen to fourth place, ahead of the #91 sister Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Gianmaria Bruni and Frederic Makowiecki.
Harry Tincknell, Sebastian Priaulx and Christian Ried took first place in GTE Am in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche.
The trio were able to deny the all-female #85 Iron Dames Ferrari crew of Michael Gattting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy by timing a late pitstop under an FCY.
Third place in GTE Am went to the #45 Team Project 1 Porsche of Matteo Cairoli, Mikkel Pedersen and Nicolas Leutwiler.
The only safety car in the race was caused by Henrique Chaves when his TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage was thrown into the air after spinning and running sideways over the sausage curbs at the second chicane.
Chaves’ car landed upside down after losing one of its doors and slid onto its roof on the other side of the track, before coming to rest against the barriers after a complete rollover.
The Portuguese driver was uninjured and was able to escape the car unaided.