2016 Petit Le Mans – Hours 4-6 update: Crumbling track sees lengthy caution dampen the action


The second three-hour chunk of the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Petit Le Mans was dominated by more than an hour under caution to repair crumbling sections of track.

As the fourth hour began, there was a small caution period to clear up debris in the first sequence of corners as Porsche North America’s Frederic Makowiecki clipped the back of a GT Daytona Porsche 911 GT3R meaning some intrepid marshals had to pick up the scattered pieces of carbon fibre.

After that the race was pretty much unremarkable for a time as Jordan Taylor continued in a comfortable position at the had of the race, but a charging Ozz Negri was making sure the Wayne Taylor Racing driver couldn’t rest on his laurels without seeing the distinctive silhouette of a Ligier in his mirrors.

With points awarded at the four hour mark, crews were doing everything they could to make sure their cars were running as high up their respective categories as possible to claim some valuable points in the Tequlia Patron North American Endurance Cup and the IMSA points table.

However, one car that missed out on claiming full points was David Heinemeier Hansson in the Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 in Prototype Challenge who had pulled the car behind the wall less than a minute before the points were due to be dished out.

With the points dealt with, hardly anything else was able to happen on track before the 19th edition of Petit Le Mans had to be put behind the safety car by IMSA officials after a decent sized strip of tarmac at turn three started crumbling every time cars ran over it.

Obviously that required Road Atlanta circuit staff make quick use of the fast-drying cement to patch the section in near record time. That said, one hour and five minutes of the race were taken up with getting done what appeared to be quite a good fix.

When the racing got underway again, it was clear to see that racing drivers don’t like to be cooped up behind safety cars for too long and set about setting the track on fire as drivers made more moves in the 30 minutes after the green flag came out than an average Formula One race.

One person putting that into practice immediately was Mario Farnbacher in the Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3R who was doing everything he could to distract and then get past Andy Lally in the #44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS, a task he managed after a number of competitive laps.

Stevenson Motorsports' #9 stayed clear of trouble to claim GTD lead at the end of the 6th hour (Credit: IMSA)
Stevenson Motorsports’ #9 stayed clear of trouble to claim GTD lead at the end of the 6th hour (Credit: IMSA)

In the lead Prototype class, Ozz Negri had re-assumed his lead in the Michael Shank Racing Ligier before handing the car over to Olivier Pla who held off Felipe Albuquerque in the Action Express Racing Corvette DP.

They didn’t have many laps of green running towards the end of the sixth hour though as another caution period came out after Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR tangled with a Prototype Challenge car that decided it would dive up the inside of the Brit going into the esses. The PC car would be recovered back to the pits with Tandy able to drive himself to the pits. Initially the car was quickly inspected and was sent back out only to go back in a lap later and go behind the wall so the Porsche North America crew could give the car a proper look over.

This stint would end under full course yellow.

Class Positions after six hours of the 2016 Petit Le Mans:

Prototype

  1. #60 – Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda – Olivier Pla/John Pew/Ozz Negri
  2. #5 – Action Express Racing Corvette DP – Joao Barbosa/Christian Fittipaldi/Filipe Albuquerque
  3. #31 – Action Express Racing Corvette DP – Eric Curran/Dane Cameron/Simon Pagenaud

Prototype Challenge

  1. #52 – PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports – Jose Gutierrez/Tom Kimber-Smith/Robert Alon
  2. #38 – Performance Tech Motorsports – Kenton Koch/Kyle Marcelli/James French
  3. #85 – JDC-Miller Motorsports – Chris Miller/Stephen Simpson/Misha Goikhberg

GT Le Mans

  1. #62 – Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE – Giancarlo Fisichella/Toni Villander/James Calado
  2. #66 – Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT – Dirk Mueller/Joey Hand/Sebastien Bourdais
  3. #4 – Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R – Tommy Milner/Oliver Gavin/Marcel Fassler

GT Daytona

  1. #9 – Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – Dion von Moltke/Matt Bell/Lawson Aschenbach
  2. #33 – Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R – Ben Keating/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Marc Miller
  3. #73 – Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R – Matt McMurry/Patrick Lindsey/Jorg Bergmeister