Leutwiler wins second Masters Endurance Legends race at Dijon as fuel issue robs Meichtry of dominant victory
Niki Leutwiler took a surprise victory in the second Masters Endurance Legends race at Dijon after his rival Ralph Meichtry was hit by a fuel issue on the final lap. Meichtry was poised to make it two from two from the Dijon Motors Cup weekend, the Swiss ORECA-Nissan 03 driver seemingly having nothing to fear from his countryman and fellow ORECA 03 driver. Leutwiler had spun on the first lap and never recovered to offer a true challenge to Meichtry but was gifted the win at the end.
It just went at the rear”, said Leutwiler about his first-lap spin. “I locked the brakes, and in a split second it was gone. I had a similar moment later on, the car wasn’t as good on the brakes as it was yesterday.
What can I say?” said Meichtry, still disappointed about losing a certain win. “I could say all kinds of bad things but I prefer to say that I enjoyed myself and had two great races.
Keith Frieser finished a distant third in another ORECA 03, with Travis Engen’s Audi R8 the best placed P1 car in fourth.
These guys shared some data with me”, said Frieser about coming close to the two Swiss drivers’ times towards the end of the race, “and that was a great help. I’m really getting to know the car now.
As the field got underway, Meichtry led Leutwiler and Frieser away but sadly, much of the race’s excitement was gone when Leutwiler spun on the first lap, dropping 13 seconds in the process – a deficit he was never going to recover.
Behind the two Swiss drivers, Frieser hung on in third, 38 seconds in arrears of leader Meichtry at the stops. Meichtry stopped on lap 14, with Leutwiler and Frieser following suit on the next lap. On lap 13, Travis Engen in the Audi R8 had been the first to stop.
After the stops, Meichtry’s lead had run out to 22 seconds, with Frieser trailing Leutwiler by another 27 seconds. As the two Swiss were running identical lap times, Meichtry only fractionally quicker than Leutwiler, the gap increased to 23 seconds with five minutes still to go.
Towards the end, Meichtry eased his pace, allowing Leutwiler to close to within 20 seconds. Frieser, on the other hand, upped his tempo, now managing times that were just five tenths off the leader’s pace, as the Canadian got more familiar with his newly acquired P2 machine.
However, the race’s drama was saved right until the end when Meichtry was seen slowing on the final lap and stuttering to a halt right after crossing the finish line. By then, Leutwiler was long gone, and victory was his.
In the GT class, father and son Patrice and Charles Milesi (Porsche 997 GT3 RSR) had an easy run to victory, the Frenchmen doubling up from their victory in the first race.