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WTM by Rinaldi Wins Crash-Shortened Race 1

Just one full racing lap complete as big crash for Louis Rossi brings early end to Race 1…

Photo: Le Mans Cup

WTM by Rinaldi Racing scored victory in Thursday’s opening Road to Le Mans race at the Circuit de la Sarthe, which was cut short by a major crash for Louis Rossi.

The No. 22 Duqueine M30 Nissan shared by European Le Mans Series regulars Leonard Weiss and Torsten Kratz was declared the victor after the race was called with only six of the originally scheduled 13 laps complete.

That was after former motorcycle racer Rossi in the No. 9 Graff Ligier JS P320 Nissan was involved in a major accident on the run down to Indianapolis, which left the right-hand side barriers with significant damage.

At the time of the stoppage, Weiss had only just retaken the overall lead of the race from the AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 of Emmanuel Collard, which had cycled to the front along with two other GT3 runners by pitting a lap earlier than the rest of the field after a safety car was called on lap three.

However, the results were taken from the end of lap five, with the AF Corse car and the two others that had gained an advantage – the two Blackthorn Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evos – being demoted to the rear of the field.

That left Weiss and Kratz, who had started fourth in the No. 22 car and had surged into the lead as early as the first Mulsanne chicane on the second lap, the victors ahead of the No. 71 Rinaldi Racing Ligier of Stefan Aust and Felipe Fernandez Laser.

As well as Kratz, Laser made significant early progress from eighth on the grid, lying second at the time of the safety car that was called to retrieve the stricken No. 50 Reiter Engineering Ligier of Horst Felbermayr Jr.

The second lap was the only full lap to completed under racing conditions as a spectacular formation lap puncture for the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of Alexander Bukhanstov led to an extra formation lap being added.

Completing the podium after the results were rolled back was the No. 97 Cool Racing Ligier of David Droux and Adrien Chila.

The No. 13 MRacing Ligier of Alexandre Cougnaud and Romano Ricci was fourth, followed by the No. 77 Thor Ligier of Colin Noble and Audunn Gudmundsson.

Victory in GT3 went to the No. 12 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Davide Fumanelli and Frederic Jousset ahead of the No. 95 Racing Spirit of LeMan Aston of Derek DeBoer and Valentin Hasse Clot.

RESULTS: Race 1

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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