Algarve Pro Racing Team climbed from 20th to 17th in the LMP2 classification during the first six hours of the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans, before being struck by an oil pump failure as the sun set on Circuit de la Sarthe (16 June).
The Portuguese outfit started its third 24 Hours of Le Mans from 20th position in LMP2 and 30th overall;
Several prototypes came unstuck in a dramatic opening to the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans, but Mark Patterson had the reins of the #25 Ligier JSP2-17 at the tradition 15.00 CET start-time and kept his nose clean;
Patterson triple-stinted during the first two hours of the twice-around-the-clock endurance race, and the South African-born American was surprised and encouraged that he had exceeded his qualifying pace while driving within himself and taking a risk-averse approach to the stint;
Patterson rose from 20th to 17th before passing control of the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier to Ate Dirk de Jong;
De Jong – a resident of the Philippines – gradually ramped up the pace to breach the 3m42s barrier during his first triple stint;
The stint concluded two laps earlier than initially planned when a Safety Car intervention prompted Algarve Pro Racing to switch drivers with just over 20 hours on the clock;
Tacksung Kim – the first Korean driver to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – also stayed behind the wheel for a triple stint, in which he consistently lapped in the 3m44s to maintain 17th position in LMP2;
At the end of hour six, there was a hive of activity in the Algarve Pro Racing garage as the team’s mechanics set about replacing a faulty gearbox oil pump, identified when oil temperatures soared.
Ate Dirk de Jong (#25 Algarve Pro Racing Team Ligier JSP2-17): “I am always critical of myself, but I have to be pleased with my lap times during my stint, as to reach the 1m42s so early in the race is very positive. The car felt great on different fuel loads, as it did on Thursday, and we’ve progressed from our starting position. Sadly, we suffered a gearbox oil pump failure at the end of Tack’s stint and the car is in the garage. It isn’t a quick fix, but we will be back out and there’s still a lot of time in which to make up the lost ground.”