A convincing win for Eurointernational summarised a strong showing this week from the #11 Ligier JSP3 Nissan crew. Mikkel Jensen led the field into Turn 1 from pole at the rolling start, a lead that would not really come under threat throughout the first of two 55-miniute races at La Sarthe circuit.
The race was eventful even before the green flag, an unfortunate Matt Bell stopping on the formation lap, the #22 United Autosports Ligier he had qualified fourth unable to take the start. First lap contact saw James Littlejohn spinning at the first Mulsanne chicane, the #2 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen, rejoining with a right rear puncture that put it a lap down, contact evidently with the #59 RLR MSport Ligier of Josh Burdon, then also out of contention.
Jensen’s lead was initially chased by Scott Andrews’s #9 Cool Racing Norma that had shown stealthy progress throughout the practice sessions. Then a gap back to James Wimslow’s DKR Norma, being harried by Colin Braun who had made a big improvement to fourth at the start in the #32 United Autosports Ligier.
The #9 Cool Racing car pitted first, a lap ahead of the rest of the leading four, but as the rest of the field sorted itself with new drivers aboard, the #11 Eurointernational Ligier settled back into its lead which had now extended to 21 seconds over the #1 DKR Engineering Norma.
The DKR car was unlucky though, coming to a halt into the final laps, though its sister DKR machine would take third in the hands of Leonard Hoogenboom.
Sean Rayhall was on a charge in the #33 Ligier JSP3 which stole third and then second place for United Autosports. This left the #16 M Racing-YMR of Laurent Millara fourth after gaining places through the pit stops. Duncan Tappy was also winding up the #25 Lanan Racing car, taking eighth from the #9 Cool Racing Norma that had been in earlier contention at the front, Tappy’s charge continuing as the Lanan prototype rose to sixth behind Colin Noble’s Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Ligier.
GT3 was steadier in its progress. Piergiuseppe Perazzini built a lead from pole for AF Corse, 1.5s ahead of Kessel Racing’s Sergio Pianezzola, the #54 Kessel Racing 488 GT3 having demoted Christoph Ulrich’s #51 Ferrari on the first lap.
The #8 Kessel Racing Ferrari gained the lead after the pit stops, but was handed a 60-second Stop-Go for not respecting Safety Zone instructions. That would hand the GT3 lead back to the #71 AF Corse car now in the hands of Marco Cioci, but the #8 car would stay second, Giacomo Piccini ahead of Andrea Piccini in the #77 Kessel Racing Ferrari third.