Ross Gunn completes the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Weather far from ideal for famous face
Ross Gunn and his TF Sport Aston Martin Racing team-mates, John Hartshorne and Ollie Hancock, finished last weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans, a qualifying round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, eighth in the LM GTE-Am class - thirty-fifth overall in an event that was dominated overall by the two factory-entered Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercars writes James Beckett.
Making his third start in the world famous Grand Prix d'Endurance, Gunn displayed his obvious talents in a GT car during qualifying sessions to set the fastest time in the LM GTE-Am class by an Aston Martin driver. Sadly a track limits penalty meant that the Vale-based racer was forced to miss the Hyperpole Qualifying session, instead lining-up fifteenth in class for the start of the big race.
Heavy rain fell at Le Mans during Saturday morning, and the 89th-running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans started with cars having to deal with difficult track conditions. There were numerous spins and crashes, with a number of team retirements posted during the opening few hours. Despite suffering a few small incidents, Gunn and his TF Sport team were able to keep their car in contention, and running at pace alongside other GTE-Am class competitors.
Gunn said, "The rain at the start was really bad and driving conditions very difficult. The spray kicked up by the prototype cars was quite bad, and it was all about keeping on the circuit and not making any major mistakes. We survived the worst of the weather, and were then able to settle down and concentrate on lapping consistently."
Adding, "It is always good to reach the finish of Le Mans. I think we would all have liked to have been slightly higher in class, as we had good pace, but this is a very special race and a very special place. It's somewhere I want to keep coming back to for many years. It would be great to one day stand on the podium."
The LM GTE categories were both won by Ferrari. The LM GTE-Pro class by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Come Ledogar, while the LM GTE-Am class victory was secured by Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera. For Pier Guidi and Nielsen, their respective class victories came shortly after they shared the winning Ferrari 488 GT3 in July's TotalEnergies Spa 24 Hours.
At the head of the field Toyota scored their fourth successive 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, finishing the race 1-2 with their GR010-Hybrid cars. The winning number 7 Toyota was driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez, with the second placed number 8 car by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley.
* A crash during the opening free practice session for the Road to Le Mans event by Alex Kapadia' s team-mate, Martin Rich, put the RLR MSport team on the back foot before their Michelin Le Mans Cup weekend had barely started. Rich crashed the car, he was sharing with Pitstone-based Kapadia, heavily in the fast Porsche Curves section of the Circuit de la Sarthe - causing considerable damage.
As a result the duo were unable to participate in any free practice sessions, and were forced to jump straight into qualifying - where they placed 23rd. A strong performance on Thursday evening, saw them race through to be classified 8th ahead of the class feature race prior to the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Starting Saturday's encounter in 26th, Rich drove well to move the Ligier-Nissan LMP3 car into twelfth before Kapadia took over for the second half. An impressive drive followed from the Vale-based racer, a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans competitor, to move into sixth position by the fall of the chequered flag.
Speaking afterwards, Kapadia said, "Martin drove well at the start and moved up to twelfth by the time I took over. I was then able to chase down a few more. Le Mans is a place where you can't test and every lap you learn something new and gain pace. I can't help wondering what might have been if we had run throughout practice, but to finish sixth can be regarded as a good result."
Adding, "I would like to offer huge thanks to all at RLR MSport for a super professional job all weekend, and we are already looking forward to coming back here again next year!"
* The Vale-based 'To Le Mans and Back' team are set to take part in a charity kart endurance race at Thruxton in Hampshire tomorrow (Thursday). James Wood, Joey Foster and Chris Dymond will drive in a two-hour race, against seventeen other teams, to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The team, that are building towards competing in a future edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, are racing at Thruxton in memory of their former team-mate, Neil Cunningham, who passed away from MND in 2016.