With Luke Whitehead on qualifying duties for the team, the McLaren was the only car to break under two minutes to claim pole position by just six-hundredths of a second, ahead of Tobias Gronewald in the Unicorns of Love Mercedes-AMG. As usual the qualifying times across the field were tight, with the top 29 cars in Pro and Silver classes combined just a second apart.
All that good work was undone just two corners into the race. Whitehead found himself on the outside of Hell Corner as Kamil Pawlowski (ITB Sainteloc) tried to follow Tobias Pfeffer (UOL) through in the slipstream. The resulting contact dropped the McLaren to tenth, with Pawlowski later penalised.
Lap one still had more drama to go as Jordan Sherratt (Ferrari) unwisely tried to run around the outside of Daire McCormack (Williams) at The Chase, and had to bail out across the outfield. Both cars made it intact and came out in the same order they went in. Sherratt did make the move stick a lap later, and set off after Pfeffer who’d pulled a 2.5-second advantage after all the fighting behind. It’d take half an hour, but eventually – and again at The Chase – the official Ferrari car would take the lead, with McCormack also sneaking through.
However the Unicorns car was later penalised for tagging the back of the Williams, and the first round of pit stops saw a major shake-up in the order. McCormack stayed out late, running close to the 65-minute stint limit, while Grantas Kareckas took over in the McLaren now in third. That soon became second as Kareckas breezed past Dominik Blajer (Williams) on the Mountain Straight, shortly before the stewards also handed Williams a penalty for contact with the ITB Sainteloc Audi.
Whitehead then put in a stunning stint, eating into Andrea Capoccia’s lead in the Ferrari and also pitting one lap later to hand over the car to Maciej Malinowski in the race lead. Sherratt wouldn’t take long to retake first and, along with Chris Harteveld in the next stint, Ferrari built up almost a 30-second advantage ahead of the McLaren.
Approaching the halfway mark though, Ferrari’s race fell apart. The slightest of errors from Capoccia put the 296 into the wall at Skyline, picking up significant damage which saw the lead erode to almost nothing by the time he pitted for repairs and to hand over to Sherratt. However, the team would then also pick up a five-second penalty for a pit-lane infringement.
If that wasn’t quite enough to hand McLaren the victory, Sherratt then collected another ten-second penalty after a coming-together with the Williams car again, and at The Chase again. This time Blajer was the victim, and the stewards took a dim view despite Sherratt ceding the place back a few turns later.
Although still the fastest car on track, Ferrari couldn’t catch up to McLaren, with the British marque taking victory by a relatively comfortable ten-second margin. A solid performance from the works Lamborghini outfit saw them coming home in third after avoiding all drama throughout the race.
A disastrous weekend for Porsche Esports Supercup championship leader Jordan Caruso has seen his points advantage more than halved, though he remains 37 points ahead going into the final round next month.
Defending champion Diogo Pinto secured his first pole position of the season, just two-hundredths of a second ahead of Alejandro Sanchez around the 8.48-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
However, Sebastian Job got the best start from the second row, skipping past Sanchez through the first complex. That set up a tactical battle between Pinto and Job as they fought to not be in the lead at the wrong place down the long straights at Le Mans.
Job took the lead for the final time around the outside of the Porsche Curves on the last lap – nearly drawing Sanchez with him – to score only his second win of the season.
Caruso had only been able to finish seventh in the sprint, earning him a front-row start alongside Yoann Harth.
This time it was Alessandro Bico who got the rocket start, and he’d lead through the first half of the race before Charlie Collins and then Harth hit the front. Harth and Sanchez then performed some formation driving into Indianapolis to secure the front two spots and Harth’s first ever PESC win.
A penultimate-lap clash between Sanchez, Job, and Caruso saw the two championship leaders lose ground and fall to the lower reaches of the top ten, but Caruso’s race ended on the final tour as he appeared to be tagged from behind by Mathias Stokbaek Jensen in the Porsche Curves.
Caruso still leads the championship, on 464 points, with Job and Campbell 37 and 38 points behind – and one round left.