Off they go, and off goes two of the LMP2s. Coleman avoids Ladygin’s spinning Oreca, then the two collide. Both cars are in a bit of a mess, but they both make their way back to the pits, ready for repairs.
Up front, the two Gibsons have held their positions, although Thiriet has been putting Albuquerque under a lot of pressure. Safety car is out, as the marshalls clean up the mess.
A bit scary on the restart, as Albuquerque overtook Hirsch too early. He gives him the place back, and then loses out to Thiriet. A few laps later, and the Jota car is up to second, lapping quickly. Hirsch is so cool up front, the silver driver bravely taking the first stint.
After 29 minutes, Albuquerque takes the lead whilst threading his way through a flood of Ferraris.
On forty minutes, Thiriet gets past Hirsch. A few laps later, and he has a short excursion costing Hirsch five seconds. All of a sudden Thiriet is on Albuquerque’s tail.
48 mins, and the pit stops start, with Murphy first to move. The others will all follow shortly, as they will all need fuel at approximately the same time.
TDS’s pit stop appeared to be extra long. A surprising driver change, as Thiriet makes way for Badey. Jota had a fuel only, while Greaves changed the front left tyre.
Albuquerque retains the lead, after all has settled down.
Positions changing, in the middle of the LMP2 pack, but here’s how they were after one hour.
Some great camera work in traffic, as the prototypes muscle their way past.
Simon Dolan takes over, after 90mins. Within a few laps, a BMW drives into him. No obvious damage, but we could do without this. Now an LMP3 car spins in front of Dolan – He’s going to have to have his wits about him today.
1 hr 45mins gone – Gary Hirsch rounds off his stint with a 1.50.6 – fastest lap of the race so far. Wirdheim takes over the Greaves Gibson.
Gibsons still first and second, but Dolan is coming under pressure from Badey.
Badey was right on the tail of Dolan, as they come up to an LMP3 car. Dolan overtakes cleanly, then the other two cars collide. The TDS car drops back ten seconds. Meanwhile Wirdheim continues to lead the way.
Good to have the Pegasus car back on track again.
67 minutes to go, and they’re green again. The Gibsons lead the way, while the TDS Oreca Coupe battles through the field.
Jota and TDS are neck and neck. How’s this going to pan out?
Finally, with 55 minutes to go, Grommendy passes Dolan. This is going to be tight. One more pit stop to go.
I didn’t see this coming…….Grommendy has now caught up with Wirdheim. This is more excitement than I hoped to have this afternoon.
47 mins left – TDS lead.
Greaves and Jota make their stops – Lancaster and Tincknell are on their way.
Tincknell sets fastest lap of the race, on his first flying lap. Lancaster is almost matching him, as they tow each other up to TDS (hopefully).
A fantastic race between the two Gibsons. It’s intelligent battling, as they know that the real enemy is TDS, who stop for LH tyres only.
One of the Ibanez cars goes into the barriers. Is this a safety car? Maybe not.
The Gibsons are 14 seconds behind the TDS Oreca. 27 mins to go.
23 minutes and the gap is 7 seconds.
Now Mediani is in the gravel.
16 mins – the gap is 5 secs.
Now Tincknell takes Lancaster, in heavy traffic. It delays both cars, but it’s Tincknell’s turn to chase down Grommendy. And this he does…13mins to go and Tincknell is less than 3 secs behind the leader.
Lancaster makes a move. Tincknell gets on the kerb and is thrown into Lancaster, and into a spin. He gets going again immediately, and the battle continues.
6 minutes and they are together. They hit. TDS spin. Greaves and Jota pass him. We have a Gibson 1-2 again. Now it’s Jota and Greaves battling again. They’re together on track and 3 minutes to go.
Jon Lancaster controlled it beautifully. And it ends up Gibson first and second, just as we have been in every session this weekend. A dream result, after a breathtaking race.
There’s a real good feeling amongst the Gibson personnel, race teams and friends. The two Gibsons put on an epic show today. By all accounts, they were very popular winners. From the grandstands to the Oak garages in the WEC paddock, there was a lot of support for the Gibsons.
All cars have successfully completed their post race checks, so it’s time for the teams to pack up. All the attention will then be on the WEC race, which starts at midday. Good luck to Oak and Strakka, as they fly the Gibson flag tomorrow, with our engines.