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Five Years at The Red Bull Ring

ELMS - 03/07/2017 - Jeff CARTER

The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring on Sunday 23 July will mark the 5th anniversary since the relaunched European Le Mans Series visited the 4.3km track in the Styrian Alps for the first time in 2013.

The Red Bull Ring has hosted some of the best action packed endurance racing over the past five years.

Some quick facts for the ELMS races in Austria

  • In LMP2 the car finishing second has gone on to win the race the following year.
  • Ferrari has filled all three LMGTE podium places every year
  • 2015 saw the closest LMGTE finish with the top three cars covered by 1.519 seconds
  • Launched at the Red Bull Ring in 2014, LMP3 has become the success story of endurance racing with large grids and great racing.

2013 – ELMS Debut in Austria

The Red Bull Ring first appeared on the ELMS calendar in 2013 with the Austrian track hosting round 3 of the five race series.  The LMP2 and LMGTE categories featured alongside the LMPC, which was in its final year before being replaced by LMP3 in 2015, and the GTC class, which is now GT3 and part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup.

The 3-hour race was won by the 2012 ELMS champions Thiriet by TDS Racing  with Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet finishing 21 seconds ahead of the no36 Signatech Alpine of Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici.  The LMGTE podium was an all Ferrari affair with RAM Racing taking the win with Matt Griffin and Johnny Mowlem finishing 61 seconds ahead of the no66 JMW Motorsport F458.

2014 – Signatech Alpine and Ferrari Victorious

In 2014 the Red Bull Ring once again hosted the third of five rounds.  Changes for the 2014 season saw the race length increase to 4 hours and three driver crews became the standard.  With the demise of the LMPC class the 33 car grid was split into three categories – LMP2, LMGTE and GTC.

After finishing second the previous season the no36 Signatech Alpine A450b-Nissan moved up one place at the end of 160 laps, with Nelson Panciatici, Oliver Webb and reigning LMPC Champion Paul Loup Chatin standing on the top step in Austria on their way to the 2014 ELMS title. They finished 12 seconds ahead of the no38 Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan.

Matt Griffin took his second LMGTE win in a row in Austria, this time alongside Duncan Cameron and Michele Rugolo in the no55 AF Corse Ferrari.  As in the previous year it was a Ferrari podium lockout with the no81 Kessel Racing F458 finishing second ahead of the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari.

2015 – LMGTE Photo Finish

The 2015 season saw the introduction of the LMP3 category and the new cars ran for the first time at the Red Bull Ring 12 months after the ACO announced the new class of Le Mans Prototypes in Austria.

After finishing second in 2014, the no38 JOTA Sport Gibson of Simon Dolan, Filipe Albuquerque and Harry Tincknell finished 27 seconds ahead of the no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca after 151 laps of racing on the 4.3km mountain circuit. 

Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson became the first ever LMP3 winners in the no3 Team LNT Ginetta, with Robertson setting a new class lap record.

For the third year in a row it was an all Ferrari podium in the LMGTE class with Johnny Laursen, Mikkel Mac and Andrea Rizzoli in the no60 Formula Racing Ferrari finishing ahead of a three way photo finish with just 1.5 seconds covering the top three cars at the chequered flag. 

The lead F458 was just 0.6 seconds ahead of the no55 AF Corse Ferrari of double race winner Matt Griffin and 2014 winner Duncan Cameron, who were joined by Aaron Scott.  They finished just 0.8 seconds in front of their AF Corse teammates in the no51 Ferrari.

2016 – Large Grid and Action Packed Racing

Austria continued to host the third round of the European Le Mans Series in 2016 but the calendar had expanded to six races with addition of Spa-Francorchamps in September.  The ELMS reverted to three classes – LMP2, LMP3 and LMGTE – after the GTC class became a new standalone series called the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup. 

Even with the GTC class no longer present, the ELMS grid had grown in 2016 with 38 cars lining up to take the start, with a massive 19 LMP3 entries.

In what has become a tradition at the Red Bull Ring, the car finishing second the previous year takes the victory in the next and 2016 was no different.  The no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca of Pierre Thiriet, Mathias Beche and Ryo Hirakawa took the win 51 seconds ahead of the no33 Eurasia Motorsport Orea.  2015 winners Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell were joined by Giedo Van Der Garde on the third step of the podium on their way to the ELMS title at the end of the season in Portugal.

The LMP3 class was won by the no2 United Autosports Ligier-Nissan of Alex Brundle, Mike Guasch and Christian England on their way to the title at the end of the year.  The Anglo-American team finished 3.4 seconds behind the no19 Duqueine Engineering Ligier on the road but the French team was handed a 4-second penalty for not respecting the mandatory pitstop time, dropping them to second place ahead of the no6 360 Racing Ligier.

For the fourth year running the LMGTE podium was an all Ferrari affair with the no66 JMW Motorsport F458 taking the honours.  Rob Smith, Rory Butcher and Andrea Bertolini finished over a lap ahead of the no51 AF Corse Ferrari and the no56 AT Racing F458.

On Sunday 23 July the Red Bull Ring will reverberate to the sound of the European Le Mans Series grid for the fifth time.  Who will win in 2017?  We will have to wait and see. 

If you can’t be in Austria to experience the ELMS in person, you can catch all the action and the latest news on the official website.

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