Motor Sport News - - Report: Le Mans 24 Hours - Photos: Jakob Ebrey, LAT

The Sig­nat­ech Alpine of Ni­co­las Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and Gus­tavo Menezes tri­umphed in a gen­uine Le Mans war of at­tri­tion in LMP2, after tak­ing con­trol of the race deep into Sun­day morn­ing.

Lapierre led very early in the race, but was left on wets for too long as the track dried and oth­ers switched to in­ter­me­di­ates and lost track po­si­tion, fall­ing out of the top 10.

Le Mans debu­tant Manor with Roberto Merhi con­trolled the first stint, but the team’s race un­rav­elled there­after. Matt Rao’s lead dis­ap­peared be­fore a spin, and then the car failed to restart in pit­lane after Rao suf­fered a punc­ture from con­tact with a bol­lard.

That cost Manor 11 laps across the sev­enth and eighth hours and any chance of vic­tory, but it con­tin­ued to race un­til Rao crashed in the 21st hour, when body­work folded un­der the front of the ORECA ap­proach­ing Porsche Curves, fol­low­ing an ear­lier off-track ex­cur­sion at In­di­anapo­lis cor­ner.

Thiriet by TDS Rac­ing con­trolled affairs for a quar­ter of the race after Ryo Hi­rakawa claimed the lead from Rao in the fifth hour.

Pierre Thiriet led Lapierre by nearly three min­utes at mid­night after safety car tim­ing worked in its favour, but the next safety car pe­riod and a very slow stop for TDS meant the bal­ance shifted in Sig­nat­ech’s favour.

Menezes started build­ing Sig­nat­ech’s lead in the 11th, 12th and 13th hours, be­fore Lapierre took over the wheel ap­proach­ing dawn on Sun­day morn­ing.

The Thiriet ORECA, then sec­ond, and fourth-placed Baxi DC Rac­ing Alpine with Nel­son Pan­ci­atici be­hind the wheel both crashed out dur­ing the 17th hour, hand­ing con­trol of the race to Sig­nat­ech.

It spent the fi­nal quar­ter of the race essen­tially one lap clear of the rest of the field, with Lapierre cross­ing the

JUNE 22 2016

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