Tracy Krohn, Niclas Jonsson and Andrea Bertolini teamed up to drive the #44 Ligier JS P217-Gibson, all three running well for over 23 hours of the race. Unfortunately, all the hard work was undone when Jonsson was forced to pit after 338 laps of the fabled Circuit de la Sarth with a gearbox problem. The team tried valiantly to cure the issue, but time was called with less than 30-minutes of the race to run.
The build-up and preparation to the race had gone smoothly, with a test at Spa Francorchamps and then the official Le Mans practice day ahead of the event. Qualifying saw the team meet all of its obligations in terms of drive time and speed, lining up Saturday afternoon in 17th position in the LMP2 class, 27th overall.
Very much aware that Le Mans is always a race of attrition, the team took a cautious approach to the race. Tracy Krohn opted to start the race with a triple stint behind the wheel before handing over to Jonsson for another long run and then Bertolini. By this point darkness was descending with the team circulating in 14th position and- battling with rivals DC Racing for position.
Jonsson completed much of the night running, moving up the order to run 11th in the early morning. Further gains came the team’s way to run ninth on lap 320 before pitting with the gearbox failure. The team finished both of its first two 24 Hours of Le Mans and came so close on its third outing after exceptional teamwork, solid strategy and error free driving.
“It’s obviously very disappointing to stop so late in the race,” stated team principal Mark Goddard. “We knew we could not win the race, but to make such great progress throughout and then to be denied the chequered flag is a shame.
“The drivers all performed as we expected and made no significant mistakes while Eurasia performed superbly,” he continued. “We could not have predicted the gearbox failure, it was a new unit and the pinion bearing failed. It was not something we were nursing or even aware of, it was sudden and total. We opened it up to see if we could find a solution, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do.
“I’d like to thank Tracy, Nic and Andrea for their efforts to bring us another top-ten position but it wasn’t to be this year. We’ll come back fighting again in 2019.”