Photo: Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin snatches Le Mans GTE-Pro win from Corvette

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A storybook finish to the GTE-Pro class ended with pure elation for Aston Martin Racing and sheer heartbreak for Corvette Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Jonny Adam in his venerable No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 pressed Jordan Taylor in his No. 63 Corvette C7.R in the final stint of the race, with the battle culminating in the final 10 minutes.

At Arnage corner, Adam went to the inside of Taylor but overshot the corner apex. Adam was on the outside driver’s left with Taylor to the right, and the two made contact at corner exit. However not long afterwards, Taylor went off course into the gravel at one of the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.

Taylor’s car then began to slow shortly thereafter and had there only been one lap still to go, he may have been able to hold off Adam. But Adam made it past Taylor at the exit of the Ford Chicane and waltzed through to the victory from there after an intense finish.

Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra took the win in the No. 97 car while Harry Tincknell’s storming charge netted the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT a second place finish on the final lap with Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani.

Taylor fell to third with a right rear puncture, after a final lap of 5:37.233, 1 minute 36 seconds back of Adam, in the No. 63 Corvette he shared with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia.

The parity in class continued with the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE completing the top five, making it five different manufacturers in as many positions, a year after the Ford and Ferrari domination of a year ago.

Verizon IndyCar Series stars Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon shared Fords that ended sixth and seventh in GTE-Pro, respectively.

GTE-Am was a far more straightforward affair with the Ferrari 488 GTEs sweeping the podium.

JMW Motorsport, which won its signoff with the old Ferrari 458 Italia at Monza’s European Le Mans Series race, won in GTE-Am with a new lineup and a new car. Rob Smith, Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens took the No. 84 car to the win.

Spirit of Race was second in the No. 55 Ferrari (Aaron Scott, Marco Cioci, Duncan Cameron) while Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler have continued their podium streak, three podiums in as many years for Scuderia Corsa, in their No. 62 WeatherTech-backed Ferrari they shared with Cooper MacNeil, who has made the Le Mans podium for the first time in his career.

Both GTE classes were very reliable with 11 of 13 in the Pro class and 15 of 16 in the Am class finishing, so it left 26 of the 29 starters able to see the checkered flag.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS BY CLASS

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.