Eventful Thursday race in Road to Le Mans

The third and fourth rounds of the Michelin Le Mans Cup were run at Circuit de la Sarthe, as a support race for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But it didn’t run under the Michelin Le Mans Cup banner this time, but as Road to Le Mans, since there are a lot of non-championship contenders entering this race.

It’s usually a single 2-hour race, but at the Le Mans circuit it’s split into two races of 55 minutes, but still with a driver change halfway through the race.

There were two separate qualifyings – one for each of the races, with each of the drivers having their own session, with the same driver having to start the race corresponding to his or hers qualifying.

Race 1 was run Thursday afternoon, with DKR Engineering #3 with Laurens Hörr and Francois Kirmann on Pole Position in LMP3, ahead of Lanan Racing #25 with Michael Benham and Duncan Tappy, while M.Racing #19 with Yann Ehrlacher and Laurent Millara were starting third.

Graff #39
Photo: JJ Media

The GT3 category had Beechdean AMR #99 with Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn on Pole, ahead of TF Sport AMR #97 with Flick Haigh and Tom Gamble, while Fabien Lavergne had qualified Luzich Racing Ferrari #71 on third starting position, which he shares with Mikkel Mac.

There was a few prominent names entered. Freddie Hunt would run alongside Martin Vedel Mortensen in the RLR MSport #15 LMP3, while Jan Lammers was entered alongside Greg Mills in a Bentley Continental GT3 for the Team Africa Le Mans #95.

Beechdean AMR #99
Photo: JJ Media

There was drama on the very first lap, when DKR Engineering #3 had damage to the front of the car, so they had to pit for a new front.

Graff #9 spun off the track on the third lap of the race, right before the Ford chicane, resulting in a Safety Car period, so the car could be removed.

Once the race went green again, there was quite a battle between Lanan acing #25 and M.Racing #19 for the lead of the race.

Spirit of Race Ferrari #52 with Ozz Negri Jr and Francesco Piovanetti had to retire just after the halfway point of the race, with rear damage after some contact.

DKR Engineering #3
Photo: JJ Media

It all ended up with Graff #39 with Adrien Chila and Nicolas Schatz winning the race, ahead of DKR Engineering #5 with Marcello Marateotto and Marco Cencetti plus Nielsen Racing #2 with Tony Wells and Colin Noble The three teams nailed their driver changes, and therefore beat Lanan Racing #25 and M.Racing #19, who didn’t pit until very much later in the race.

Mikkel Mac and Fabien Lavergne won in GT3 in their Luzich Racing Ferrari #71 , after overtaking Beechdean AMR #99 at the pitstop. #99 did however end up retiring on the very final lap of the race. So instead it was SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes #40 with Valentin Pierburg and Tom Onslow-Cole finishing second, ahead of Spirit of Race Ferrari #51 with Christoph Ulrich and Maurizio Mediani.

KEO Racing #43
Photo: JJ Media

Both Freddie Hunt and Jan Lammers saw the chequered flag, in 8th and 16th position respectively.

Luzich Racing Ferrari #71
Photo: JJ Media

Race 2 will be run on Saturday morning, with it oswn starting grid for the 55 minutes race, unrelated to today’s happenings.

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