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Torsten Kratz and Leo Weiss drove to victory in Thursday's Road To Le Mans race. (Le Mans Cup photo)

Kratz & Weiss Top Road To Le Mans Fight

LE MANS, France — The opening race of the Road To Le Mans weekend during the 24 Hours of Le Mans was won by Torsten Kratz and Leo Weiss.

The race ended prematurely because of a red flag when Louis Rossi hit the barrier in the Indianapolis corner and destroyed the No. 9 Graff Ligier.

The drama began even before the race got underway when the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of reigning Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 champion Alex Bukhantsov pulled to the side of the track with the rear-left tire assembly missing after it detached in a shower of bodywork.

When the cars were released the No. 12 Duqueine driven by Kratz quickly moved from fourth into the lead, passing the two COOL Racing Ligiers ahead of him.

Audunn Gudmundsson also made good progress in the No. 77 Team Thor Ligier, moving up to third behind Adrien Chila in the No. 97 COOL Racing Ligier as the No. 87 Ligier dropped down the order with damage and a leaking radiator.

The Reiter Engineering Ligier of Horst Felbermayr spun off into the gravel at the second chicane, while the Steller Motorsport Ligier of Sennan Fielding went off in a separate incident.

After initially declaring a Slow Zone, this was quickly upgraded to a Safety Car to recover several cars and repair some damage to the barriers.

The Safety Car stayed out for 23 minutes, with all the cars coming into the pits to conduct the mandatory pit stops.

This put the No. 82 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard into the lead ahead of the two Blackthorn Aston Martins, with the No. 90 Vantage of Lorcan Hanafin in second place.

The race went green with just under 18 minutes remaining on the clock with the No. 12 WTM by Rinaldi Racing Duqueine driven by Leo Weiss quickly making his way back up into the overall lead.

However, Rossi impacted the barrier heavily, badly damaging his car and the barrier. With debris all across the track and the Armco barrier just twisted metal, the race was red flagged.

The result was declared with the order on the lap just before the Safety Car, which put the No. 12 WTM by Rinaldi Duqueine and the No. 12 Kessel Racing Ferrari as the winners of the opening round of the 2024 Road To Le Mans. The winning Ferrari was handled by David Cleto Fumanelli.

The No. 71 Rinaldi Racing Ligier finished second in the LMP3 class, with the  No. 97 COOL Racing Ligier third.

Meanwhile, the Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin was second in the GT3 class, followed by the No. 88 AF Corse Ferrari.

The race was televised live by SPEED SPORT 1 earlier today. Race two of the weekend for the Road To Le Mans series will be shown live at 10:35 a.m. ET Saturday morning on SPEED SPORT 1.

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