Algarve Pro Racing Team is still circulating at the midpoint of the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans, in spite of a turbulent and dramatic run through Saturday (16 June) night and into the early hours of Sunday (17 June) morning.
A faulty gearbox oil pump caused the #25 Ligier JSP2-17’s oil temperatures to soar as the sun set over France’s Loire Valley and Algarve Pro Racing Team was forced to shorten Tacksung Kim’s first triple stint to fix the issue;
A remarkably concerted and efficient effort followed, as Algarve Pro Racing Team completed a full gearbox rebuild to change a bevel gear – a job that typically takes six hours – in just over 120 minutes;
The #25 Algarve Pro Racing Team Ligier LMP2 returned to the fray with Mark Patterson behind the wheel just before the stroke of midnight;
Patterson, aged 66 from the USA, made some headway from 59th to 57th position overall while lapping solidly in the 3m44s, until he was forced to return to the pits to replace a faulty lighting panel;
Swift work by Algarve Pro Racing’s mechanics meant the problem was fixed and Patterson was back on the move in just seconds;
Laptimes were strong and consistent, but contact with a GTE car at the apex of Mulsanne corner during the 11th hour sent the #25 Ligier into the wall;
Patterson dragged the ailing prototype back to the pits where Algarve Pro Racing once again leapt into action, replacing front suspension and steering parts before sending Ate Dirk de Jong out into his first race stint during the hours of darkness.
Mark Patterson (Algarve Pro Racing Team Ligier JSP2-17): “The race started very well, because we were out there for five hours and picked up five places – three during my first stint and then two more when Tacksung (Kim) and Ate (Dirk de Jong) got in. Optimistically, it seemed that if we simply kept going at our own pace, error-free, we might end up with a top ten finish in LMP2.
“However, at the end of Tack’s triple stint Algarve Pro Racing discovered an oil temperature problem and it turned out that the gearbox was failing. Most of the gearbox internals had to be replaced and that took over two hours, so a top ten result went out of the window. We kept pushing, I went out for a quadruple stint and then an error of judgement while chasing a GTE car into the Mulsanne braking zone resulted in contact. I was knocked into the wall and that hit broke something. It was very hard to get the car back to the pits. It’s a shame, because we have had good pace.”