Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography
ELMS - 15/04/2017 - Jeff CARTER
The LMP2 class Ligier JSP217-Gibson driven by Filipe Albuquerque was 30 seconds behind the G-Drive Racing Oreca-Gibson when the lead car, driven by Ryo Hirakawa, started to struggle on old tyres. The final 15 minutes saw the gap between the two cars reduce dramatically and the United Autosports Ligier took the lead with less than 3-minutes of the race remaining. At the chequered flag Albuquerque was 6.3 seconds ahead of the Japanese driver, with the no49 High Class Racing Dallara of Anders Fjordbach taking a podium finish on the Danish team’s ELMS debut.
The fourth placed no40 Graff Oreca 07-Gibson just missed out on a podium after Richard Bradley’s early charge through the field from 29th on the grid to take the lead of the race, with Australian James Allen bring the car home to score 12 championship points.
The victory in the LMP3 class was clearer with the no2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3-Nissan of Sean Rayhall and John Falb finishing 41 seconds ahead of the British team 360 Racing with Ross Kaiser at the wheel at the chequered flag. The gap would’ve been greater but for a spin at T9 by Falb with 30 minutes remaining. The American recovered with his lead still intact and he held on until the chequered flag, with the no17 Ultimate Ligier-Nissan taking the final LMP3 podium position.
However there was a change after the race when the 360 Racing Ligier was given a penalty by the stewards for not respecting the driving time when Anthony Wells didn’t drive for long enough as a bronze driver. The time penalty awarded dropped the car down the order and promoted the no17 Ultimate Ligier into second place, with the no3 United Autosports Ligier-Nissan now classified as third.
TF Sport Score ELMS Debut GTE Win
The LMGTE victory went to ELMS debutants TF Sport with Euan Hankey finishing the race in the Aston Martin Vantage over a lap ahead of the no77 Proton Competition Porsche of Matteo Cairoli. The team also had a scare when the TF Sport Aston Martin was clipped by the no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari and the two cars went spinning off the track. However the Aston Martin was quickly recovered and the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup champions celebrated a well deserved debut win in the ELMS. The final place on the podium also went to Aston Martin with the no99 Beechdean AMR Vantage of Ross Gunn finished just 1.1 seconds behind the second placed Porsche at the end of the four hour race.
Round 2 of the 2017 European Le Mans Series will take place at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza on Sunday 14 May.
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