The colossal Porsche field, the joining of Carrera Cup France, Carrera Cup Great Britain and GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux, was on track four times throughout the French event – the three series featuring two practice sessions, qualifying and a 45-minute race, held on Saturday morning as a precursor to the 24-hour endurance race.
It had been three years since Cini had raced at the Circuit de la Sarthe; in 2014 Stephen Grove and Cini raced at the 13.6 km circuit, placing 25th and 29th, respectively.
Starting 44th on a grid of 61 911 GT3 Cup cars, Cini began his charge through the field and reached 33rd by mid-race when he and Irish young gun Charlie Eastwood, who dropped down the order after an earlier incident, made contact; the result of which saw Cini spin into the gravel trap.
Once retrieved from the gravel trap, Cini pitted to replace a damaged rim before finishing 49th outright (29th in Class B), one lap down from the ultimately race winner, Brit Dan Cammish.
While his race was bittersweet, Cini was thrilled with the overall experience of his second Le Mans appearance in Carrera Cup.
“The race was going very well and I was running in 33rd and chasing the cars in front. I was then hit by a pro driver coming through the field who was involved in an earlier incident. I had a damaged wheel so I had to pit and finished around one lap down,” said Cini.
“It was a fantastic event on and off the track; it was as good as it was back when I raced at Le Mans in 2014. Having 61 Porsches on track at the same time was a thrilling experience, there was always something happening on track.
“Being able to jump into a different Carrera Cup championship with an identical race car to what I race in Australia makes life much easier. As you already know the equipment, all you have to do is learn the circuit, which makes for a far more enjoyable motor racing experience.”
Cini will continue his international racing programme when he lines up at the next Porsche Carrera Cup Australia round, to be held at Sepang International Circuit in just five weeks.