Shortly after the 13-hour mark of the 88th annual 24 Hours of Le Mans the Houston, Texas-based No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari team had its first setback in its effort to achieve a podium in the legendary twice-around-the-clock endurance classic race.
Jules Gounon had been in the No 82 Ferrari 488 GTE-Pro at the halfway point of the race and stayed in for another hour before passing the red beauty to Sébastien Bourdais from third place, the highest position yet achieved in class by the Risi team this race, and shortly after the 13-hour mark.
Shortly into Seb's stint the car experienced a damper failure that sent him spinning into the gravel right at the Porsche Curves. Fortunately, he did not collide with the wall and was able to maneuver the car back to the pits, where the talented Risi Competizione team changed the brakes, damper and made a quick door replacement since the mirror was falling off.
Sébastien then had to make a second pit stop following a wheel lock-up and suffering a flat spotted right front tire. The time in the pits cost the popular team two laps and three class positions as they dropped back to sixth place in the GTE-Pro class as the raced approached 14 hours. Fortunately, the remainder of his stint was uneventful as he piloted around the 8.467-mile (13.626 km) Le Mans circuit running steady and consistent laps.
Olivier Pla was next in the cycle to drive the car, as he drove solid laps through his two stints before handing the car off to Jules Gounon about 20 minutes after the 17-hour mark. The young Frenchman was clicking off good laps while in the fifth position in class as the 18-hour approached.
The Risi Competizione team makes repairs during a pit stop
Jules Gounon, driver No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 LM GTE-Pro:
"I'm really disappointed at the moment. I came into the pits in P3 with some dreams (for a podium finish). Unfortunately, Seb broke a damper on the front right so we lost many laps and it put us back to P6 with not a big chance of podium any longer. We are going to still push as hard as possible. The boys did an amazing job to change the damper so quickly but unfortunately that's the way it is now."
Sébastien Bourdais, driver No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 LM GTE-Pro:
"Basically, as soon as I got back in the car on the out lap, I had a right front damper failure right at the entry of the Porsche Esses, which made for a very interesting moment. I ended up spinning right at the turn in and managed to not hit the wall; I'm not quite sure how and not get trapped in the gravel trap either. I was able to make it back to the pits and the guys found the problem and changed the damper as quickly as possible, which is never an easy job on a GT car. We lost a bit of time but thankfully the car is in one piece. After that I had an interesting lock up as well a couple of laps after that, so I was really on the backfoot trying to build the confidence back and get into a rhythm again. The next two stints were kind of uneventful. I really tried my best to stay out of the kerbs in general and just run laps as consistently and fast as I could without overdoing it. I guess we'll just keep doing our thing until the end of the race and see what happens."