After the first third of the race, the duel for the lead continues in the LMP2 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Pierre Thiriet and André Negrão completed their first stints, which were marked by several position changes between the n°36 Alpine A470 and the n°26 G-Drive.
As is tradition, the dark hours of Le Mans will be crucial.
In the lead at 18:00, the n°36 Alpine A470 was handed over to Pierre Thiriet after the five stints – a double, then a triple – of Nicolas Lapierre.
While he held on to the lead in his first stint, the Frenchman ceded the category lead to the n°26 G-Drive in the second before following closely just until handing over to André Negrão at 20:00.
Neither the multiple yellow flags and slow zones, nor the interventions of the safety car, and to a lesser extent the first drops of rain as sun set over the circuit, slowed the Brazilian’s determination.
After 35 minutes on track, André Negrão made a fantastic move to retake the lead in the category. An hour later, the French squad’s rivals answered back by putting their Platinum driver back in the car. Making the most of the third appearance of the safety car and the second stop for André, they used the fresher tyres to surprise the Alpine A470 as the race entered hour seven.
The Brazilian kept pushing to stay in contact, handing over to Nicolas Lapierre during a pit stop that was disrupted by another LMP2 car.
In the chase to catch the leader, the Signatech Alpine Matmut team is now a few seconds behind in second place at 23:00. Their challengers for the title are still battling in the provisional top five of the category.
Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Matmut
“According to our respective strategies and the car that has the freshest tyres, the swapping of the lead continues and should stay like this for quite some time assuming nothing out of the ordinary happens especially as the race pace is very high. Unfortunately, we lost 10 seconds in the pits, but that is one of the inherent risks at Le Mans. The full-course yellows have allowed the Dragonspeed to get back into the battle. As is often the case, the race should settle down during the night. We have to survive to stay in contention.”
“My first two stints were quite hectic with this repeated alternance between the rain and dry conditions! In the end I managed to get past, but it was hard to have a steady pace with the yellow flags and the safety cars. However, I think I did a good job, I did not make a mistake and we are still in contention for the win while staying ahead of our championship rivals. Now, we must continue this momentum and stay focused throughout the night."