Jon Lancaster saw his hopes of another F3 Euroseries podium come to an abrupt end at Le Mans after the ART Grand Prix driver was forced out of the second race of the weekend in
Lancaster had made a storming start from twelfth on the grid and was up to fifth by the second corner as the rain began to fall.
A rare error allowed Koudai Tsukakoshi to close up and in the increasingly tricky conditions at the French track, the Japanese driver locked up on the entry to turn five, T-boning Lancaster into the barrier causing instant retirement and bringing out the red flag.
The 19 year-old Briton had suffered disastrous luck in Friday's qualifying session, when his quickest time was disallowed as it was deemed to be have been done under the yellow flags, putting him 18th on the grid as a result.
In the opening race, Lancaster made a superb start to enter the first corner twelfth, having made up six places off the line. However his charge was ended when a number of drivers drove a short cut through the chicane, re-passing Lancaster and pushing him back to 18th.
A determined effort allowed him to claw his way back through the field overtaking six cars on his way to twelfth to give him a sixth row start for race two, before the later disappointment.
“In qualifying I was really struggling to get any heat into the front tyres and I think James [Jakes] was too, which was probably why he went off the track,” Lancaster reflected. “Race one was difficult but the pace was definitely there and I was able to made some good progress. The car was pretty good, and I was able to make a good start, going into the first corner just behind my team-mate.
“However at the chicane that all turned out to be a waste as a load of them took a short cut through the chicane and took the places back. It seems here that we spend more time off track than on track as there are so many tarmac areas off line.
“I managed to get past James early on and then Clairay and was pushing Philippe hard. Every lap on the entry to the straight, I was able to catch up and forced him into a mistake a couple of times, when he ran off the track. However I was reasonably happy with the result from the low grid slot and confident of being able to repeat that charge in Sunday's race.
“In race two I made a great start having got up into fifth by the second corner and was right on the tail of the lead pack. I made a bit of a mistake in turn four which allowed Tsukakoshi to close right up on me and by then the rain was falling heavily and track was very slippery. Under braking I think he just locked up and T-boned me pushing me off into the barrier. It's unfortunate as I could have potentially been on the podium, particularly when you see that he went on to finish fourth and I'd been ahead of him at that point.
“But these things happen and there's nothing I could have done any differently. We now have the final two races left and I've slipped to third in the rookies standing and second top Briton, so I'll be hoping to get those two places back in the final rounds.”