Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography
ELMS - 13/05/2018 - Jeff CARTER
The Franco-Russian crew finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of the no33 TDS Racing Oreca, which had started at the back of the LMP2 field, with the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca finishing 2.1 seconds behind TDS Racing to claim the final podium place.
The LMP3 victory went to the no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Giorgio Mondini and Kay Van Berlo after a race long battle with several cars including the no2 United Autosports Ligier of reigning champions Sean Rayhall and John Falb. Falb looked on course to take the win but contact with the LMP2 class no27 IDEC Sport Ligier of William Cavailhes at Turn 1 caused the LMP3 class Ligier’s rear tyre to suffer a puncture with just 10 minutes of the race remaining.
The LMGTE class was won in convincing style by the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari after Duncan Cameron took the F488 from 3rd on the grid to 1st by the time he stopped to hand over to Aaron Scott. Scott and Griffin brought the car home over a minute ahead of the no77 Proton Competition Porsche in second place.
Action From Start to Finish at the Temple of Speed
The no21 Dragonspeed Oreca started from pole position after the no33 TDS Racing, which had secured pole in qualifying, was put to the back of the LMP2 grid for a technical infringement. Ben Hanley in the Dragonspeed Oreca led the huge 43 car field through Turn 1, with Roman Rusinov in the no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca mounting an early challenge.
There were a few minor scuffles as the big grid negotiated the first corner, with the LMP3 class no19 M Racing YMR Norma of David Droux pitting with damage at the end of the first lap. Hanley opened up a gap to Rusinov as the Russian had to defend his second place from Pierre Ragues in the no29 Duqueine Engineering Oreca.
The no17 Ultimate Norma of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye led the LMP3 category with the no8 DKR Engineering Norma of Miguel Toril making rapid progress at the start to move ahead of Sean Rayhall in the no2 United Autosports Ligier. However the Spanish driver’s start was judged to have been too good by the stewards and a drive through penalty was served for a jump start.
The LMGTE start saw the no80 Ebimotors Porsche of Raymond Narac lead at the start but the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Miguel Molina was making progress from the back of the grid after the British team was forced to miss qualifying due to damage sustained during a free practice accident on Saturday morning. The Spaniard took the lead on lap 7 but lost out with the first round of pitstops during the first safety car period.
There were three safety car periods in the first two hours. The first after just 16 minutes of racing after the no39 Graff Oreca-Gibson of Alexandre Cougnaud went off at Turn 7 and hitting the barriers. The French driver was OK but the car had to be moved to a safe location before racing resumed after 20 minutes.
The second Safety Car was deployed after 45 minutes of racing after the no40 G-Drive Racing Oreca went off at T9/T10 into the barriers. Enzo Guibbert emerged from the car unscathed but again the race had to be neutralised for 17 minutes to recover the car safely and also clear debris from a separate incident when the no7 Ecurie Ecosse/ Nielsen Ligier of Christian Olsen which had hit the barriers at Turn 3, spreading debris all over the track.
The third Safety Car period followed a Full Course Yellow that was declared after 1 hor and 41 minutes of racing to recover the no20 Racing for Poland Ligier which had been in a collision with the no88 Proton Competition Porsche and had become beached in the gravel at T8. The no8 DKR Engineering Norma of Jean Glorieux was involved in an unseen accident between Lesmo 2 and Ascari and the Safety Car had to be deployed to recover the stranded Norma.
Racing resumed at the top of the third hour with the no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Kay Van Berlo passing John Falb’s United Autosports Ligier to take the lead of the LMP3 category. However the race went back under a Safety Car five minutes later when the no18 M Racing –YMR Ligier was tapped into a spin at the exit of Lesmo 2 by the no16 BHK Motorsport Ligier and was then collected by the no9 AT Racing Ligier of Alexander Talkanitsa Junior who couldn’t miss the stranded LMP3 car. With debris strewn across the track the Safety Car had to be deployed for a fourth time.
The no22 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 of Phil Hanson was leading the race at the restart with the no26 G-Drive Oreca of Andrea Pizzitola in second, with Will Owen in the no32 United Autosports LMP2 Ligier in third spot and challenging the French driver for position.
With Hanson heading to the pits to hand over the car to Filipe Albuquerque, the no26 G-Drive Oreca swept back into the lead as Owen was passed by the no23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier of Will Stevens for third as Albuquerque emerged from the pits in second place.
In LMP3 the front running Ultimate Norma was challenging for a podium finish but had to pit with rear damage to the car. In LMGTE the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Aaron Scott was well ahead of the chasing Porsches, led the no77 Proton Competition 911.
With an hour remaining the no11 Eurointernational and the no2 United Autosports Ligiers both headed to the pits with the United Autosports crew getting their driver out in front. Aaron Scott also headed to the pits to hand over the LMGTE leading Ferrari for Matt Griffin to bring home.
At the front of the field the LMP2 teams were heading for their final set of stops with the no26 Oreca of Jean-Eric Vergne holding a 22 second lead over the no22 Ligier of Filipe Albuquerque. The Portuguese came into the pits promoting the no33 TDS Racing Oreca to second. Albuquerque rejoined the track but had to serve a drive through penalty for causing a collision with car no4 earlier in the race, putting the no22 United Autosports Ligier out of contention for a podium finish.
The win went to the no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca as Jean-Eric Vergne claimed his third victory in three weekends (Formula E, FIA WEC and ELMS), ahead of the no33 TDS Racing and the no28 IDEC Sport Orecas.
In LMP3 the no2 United Autosports Ligier had pulled out a small gap to the chasing no11 Eurointernational Ligier when disaster struck. A puncture to the rear right tyre after a collision with an LMP2 car had the American heading to the pits. He rejoined and finished in fifth at the chequered flag. The Kay Van Berlo took the chequered flag to claim the P3 class win ahead of Ross Kaiser in the no6 360 Racing Ligier and the no3 United Autosports Ligier of Tony Wells. Martin Hippe, who had been challenging for the lead, had to dive into the pits in the dying minutes of the race, the German coming home in 4th place.
The LMGTE victory went to the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari with Matt Griffin taking the chequered flag ahead of the no77 Proton Competition and no80 Ebimotors Porsche 911s.
Round 3 of the European Le Mans Series will be the 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring on Sunday 22 July. Before that many of the ELMS competitors will be heading to Le Mans for the world’s greatest motor sport event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, on the 16/17 June.
CLICK HERE for the result from Round 2, the 4 Hours of Monza
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