Algarve Pro Racing Team is sad to report that it has retired from the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans due to a recurrence of the gearbox issue that struck the team on Saturday (16 June) evening.
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 – and Tacksung Kim – the first Korean driver to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – triple-stinted 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;
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 re-entered the fray with Patterson behind the wheel just before the stroke of midnight, but the 66-year old was soon 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 a matter of 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 De Jong out into his first race stint during the hours of darkness;
Algarve Pro Racing turned its fortunes around as the sun rose over Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday morning;
The Albufeira-based outfit began cycling through its drivers more quickly, only keeping them in for double stints until a recurrence of the gearbox issue that struck the team on Saturday night halted its charge with just over three hours remaining.