Both of the LMP2 and GTE championship-leading entries have hit trouble, and are in jeopardy of claiming its respective titles, following a drama-filled first half of Sunday’s European Le Mans Series season finale at Estoril.
The No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan, which was running third in the race and in position to win its first ELMS title since 2012, is in the garage with electrical issues.
Ryo Hirakawa was unable to re-fire the LMP2 contender during a routine pit stop in the second hour, dropping the French entry down the running order.
Co-drivers Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet entered the weekend with a 14-point lead over G-Drive Racing’s Harry Tincknell, Giedo van der Garde and Simon Dolan, who currently leads the race, with Dolan holding a nearly 40-second gap over the second-placed No. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Nic Jonsson.
GTE championship leader JMW Motorsport also spent considerable time in the garage with gear selection issues, and returned to the track only to get hit by a spinning No. 2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 of Mike Guasch.
The freak incident has brought out a safety car, the first of the race, although both cars have since rejoined under its own power and have returned to the pits for repairs.
The No. 99 Beechdean AMR-backed Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Darren Turner currently leads GTE. The team needs to win the race in order to take the title away from the JMW squad.
Thomas Laurent, meanwhile, is up front in LMP3 in his No. 17 M.Racing – YMR Ligier JS P3.
Nicolas Lapierre led the early stages of the race in the pole-sitting DragonSpeed Oreca 05 Nissan, in a hard-fought battle with G-Drive’s van der Garde, who retook the lead just prior to the first round of pit stops.
A series of incidents for Bronze-rated driver Henrik Hedman, who took over controls of the DragonSpeed car following the first stop, has dropped the American entry to fifth and out of contention for the win.
Alex Brundle got the LMP3 championship-winning No. 2 United Autosports entry up to fourth overall on the opening lap, but the car has since faded out of podium contention following Guasch’s incident.