JOTA took the LMP2 class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, securing its first victory since 2017 with a controlled performance after taking the lead during the opening exchanges.
The No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson of Roberto Gonzalez, Antonio Felix da Costa and Will Stevens claimed the class win by a margin of 1 minute and 48 seconds from the No. 9 Prema Oreca of Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Lorenzo Colombo as the Italian squad secured a podium finish on its Le Mans debut.
JOTA’s ‘Mighty 38’ captured the lead in the class during the opening hour after Da Costa surpassed Kubica half an hour into the race by emerging in front during the first round of scheduled pitstops.
Kubica had taken the lead on the opening lap of the race after a chaotic start that saw the No. 22 United Autosports car of Will Owen end up in the gravel following contact with Team WRT driver Rene Rast.
After assuming the lead, the British squad carried through a commanding performance to take the class win, only seeing its lead briefly brought down when da Costa pitted after a short, three-lap stint due to suffering from a delaminating tire on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the British squad secured its first LMP2 class victory since it won and finished on the overall podium under the Jackie Chan DC Racing banner.
Its tally of LMP2 class victories now sits at three, having taken its maiden win in 2014.
The sister No. 28 car, piloted by Oliver Rasmussen, Jonathan Aberdein and Ed Jones completed the podium in third place.
The trio remained in touching distance of the second-placed Prema throughout the Sunday running, but were ultimately condemned to third place after Aberdein also encountered a tire delamination in the closing hours.
TDS Racing x Vaillante completed a remarkable run to fourth place after having its entry thrown into jeopardy mere days before the race when its Bronze-rated driver Philippe Cimadomo was prohibited to race by the stewards.
With Toyota reserve Nyck de Vries as a late addition to its ranks, the No. 13 Oreca co-driven by Mathias Beche and Tijmen van der Helm finished a lap down on the winning car after recovering from a drive-through penalty endured by Beche on Sunday morning due to repeated track limits infringements.
The French team finished ahead of the No. 5 Team Penske Oreca of Dane Cameron, Emmanuel Collard and Felipe Nasr, which rounded out the top-five in class.
While JOTA effectively controlled the race from the early exchanges, some of its major class contenders suffered issues and setbacks through an attrition-heavy event in the secondary prototype class.
The No. 22 United entry largely had its run curtailed by the opening lap melee, while the sister car also endured a challenging run as its suffered multiple tire failures, a drive-through penalty for Oliver Jarvis due to an unsafe release and an additional penalty for Josh Pierson as the 16-year-old committed a slow zone infringement.
Similarly, defending winners Team WRT had a race to forget as only one of its three entries finished the race in the top ten.
Its most high-profile setback occurred when the No. 31 car was eliminated from the race due to a crash by Robin Frijns at Indianapolis in Hour 19.
The Dutchman was running in the top ten at the time after the car had recovered from two significant penalties.
Its sister No. 41 car was similarly eliminated from contention during the early night when Norman Nato spun the car into the gravel at the Porsche Curves.
The top ten in class was completed by United Autosports’ No. 23 car, Cool Racing, IDEC Sport, Richard Mille Racing Team and the No. 32 Team WRT entry.
RESULTS: 24 Hours of Le Mans