SIGNATECH STAYS ON TRACK FOR LMP2 WIN
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