Heartbreak ending to 24 Hours of Le Mans for Heart of Racing Team

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Heartbreak ending to 24 Hours of Le Mans for Heart of Racing Team

2024 FIA World Endurance Championship Le Mans, France 10th - 16th June 2024 Photo: Drew Gibson

Le Mans, France (16 June 2024) – After making a strong comeback from an early-race setback to consistently run in podium contention, the Heart of Racing Team’s 24 Hours of Le Mans ended early after being involved in an incident in the 17th hour of the FIA World Endurance race.

Alex Riberas, Ian James and Daniel Mancinelli joined forces in the trio’s second 24 Hours of Le Mans outing at the Circuit de la Sarthe after a week of testing, qualifying, and race preparation ahead of the 92nd running of the iconic endurance event.

Riberas and Mancinelli secured a spot in Hyperpole qualifying in Wednesday’s qualifying practice session, with James taking the controls in the 40-minute Hyperpole session on Thursday to earn a spot on the third row after clocking a fast lap time of  3:59.655-seconds.

Saturday afternoon featured the traditional 4:00 PM local start for the 24 Hour, with Riberas behind the wheel of the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage LMGT3. Riberas handed the wheel over to James after the first 40 minute stint. James drove an additional three stints equaling a total of 32 green flag laps before Mancinelli took the next three stints as the race endured a series of transitions from wet to dry and back.

An issue with the left rear tire on an early pit stop cost the team some track position, but the group rallied to make up ground and fight forward. A little after hour five, James retook the controls of the Aston Martin Vantage LMGT3, driving up to sit fourth when the first safety car of the race struck for an incident with a HYPERCAR. The Heart of Racing Team Principal maintained the pace as the field continued to circulate in the darkness.

As track repairs concluded and the race resumed in earnest, Riberas posted a remarkable four stint effort, setting the team’s fastest lap of the race, a 3:58.793-second lap. That’s when the rain began to roll in once again, eventually becoming heavy enough to bring out another safety car. James jumped back in the seat to drive another three hours and 20 minutes in third while under safety car conditions.

Mancinelli was back in the No. 27 Heart of Racing machine taking the green flag after the extended safety car period as the morning light took over the circuit.  The Italian driver drove from seventh to second within the first few laps of going back to green. Mancinelli was in his second stint when he was forced out of the racing line to avoid contact heading into the Indianapolis corner.

The No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage LMGT3’s slick tires hit the wet track, making it impossible for Mancinelli to slow as he spun and made contact with the tires, flipping the car over and ending the race early for the Heart of Racing Team with just over six hours to go. Fortunately, the safety measures built into the machine meant that Mancinelli walked away from the car seemingly unharmed.

“Well huge disappointment with the result, but super proud of the men and women from Heart of Racing that prepared and serviced an amazing car, all race long,” said James. “If it was the 18 hours of Le Mans we would all be smiling, regardless it makes us hungrier than ever to come back again in the future and strive for success.”

“A very hard pill to swallow. Le Mans is very rewarding, but also very mean and a very cruel mistress when it comes to emotions,” said Riberas. “It gives you a lot, but is also very hard when things go wrong and things can go wrong in a split second which is what happened to Dani today. We were running in second place and looking to possibly fight for a win at the moment of the accident. That’s a testament of what a strong effort the entire Heart of Racing crew and the preparation from Aston Martin Racing for this huge event. I am very proud of everybody on the team. We will regroup and come back stronger for the next one.”

The Heart of Racing Team’s WEC program will be back in action at the Six Hours of San Paulo July 11 – 13. Ahead of the Brazilian race, the Heart of Racing Team will take on the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen next weekend.