It was sunny and, more importantly, dry at the Red Bull Ring, Austria for round three of the 2018 European Le Mans Series with air and track temperatures of 16° and 18° respectively. After a very competitive Qualifying, Paul Petit was starting the race for Racing Engineering, after Norman Nato had qualified the Spanish team’s Oreca 07-Gibson in third place.
Paul lost a place at the start to the fast-starting G-Drive Racing Oreca, but he was soon looking for a way to pass the third placed car and by lap 10 there was a tense battle for second place with Paul, still in fourth, chasing the Orecas of IDEC Sport and G-Drive with the similar car of United Autosports right behind, the four cars were separated by less than four seconds. The five leading cars were already lapping the GTE and LMP3 cars, so all the drivers were having to be careful not to make any mistakes.
By lap 20 Paul was still chasing the IDEC and G-Drive cars but it was then announced that the G-Drive car had jumped the start and would have to serve a drive-through penalty promoting Paul to third. On lap 27, as the race neared the forty-minute mark, Paul took the first pitstop for Racing Engineering, the team just refuelling the Oreca but not changing tyres or driver. Paul resumed the track in sixteenth position but, as the other LMP2 cars made their stops, Paul was soon back to third, 1.7 seconds behind the IDEC car and 10 seconds ahead of the United Autosports Oreca. Paul soon closed the gap on the IDEC car and on lap 35 the Racing Engineering car was just 0.5 seconds behind but, once again, both drivers were lapping slower cars so the gap was opening and closing corner by corner.