Sunday 17 May 2015

Imola sets the stage for the second ELMS race of the season

After a thrilling opener of the season at Silverstone, the European Le Mans Series heads on to Imola for the second race of the 2015 season.   Jota Sport dominated the field last year in Italy, and they will be eager to repeat that on Sunday.  At Spa last month the Gibson/Nissan signed for a clear win in the LMP2 class, putting the expectations high for this weekends race.  But they will have to deal with Greaves Motorsport who clinched the opening race at Silverstone after a tantalising finale.  Thiriet by TDS will be close too in their Oreca 05 as should be Murphy’s men, eager to get off to a good finish on Italian soil in the Murphy prototype.

This race also sees the debut of the long expected BR01/Nissan by SMP racing, designed by Paolo Catone, who was also comitted to the design of the Peugeot 908.  After a succesfull 24 hour test at Paul Ricard last month, will they be able to compete in their first race and dress rehearsal for Le Mans ?

Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson will defend their lead in the championship in the LNT Ginetta after their home win at Silverstone.  It will be interesting to see the development of the LMP3 cars after their first race last month.  The field increases to 6 cars with the Italian Villorba Corse team making its debut in Imola with a Ginetta chassis. News was also announced this week that United Autosport has purchased 2 Ginetta LMP3 cars to compete in the 2016 season, with a debut during the last race of this season at Estoril.  Graff Racing will also debut at Estoril, with the first Ligier JS P3.

In the GT classes Gulf Racing UK will be aiming for a second win after clinching victory at Silverstone.   JMW racing’s Ferrari will be lurking around the corner to get one step higher on the podium, and with AF Corse contesting a home race in Italy, the fight for the podium might well be on.  Marc VDS, also aiming for the podium in Imola, goes into its busiest weekend ever with 4 races, 4 different categories and 3 different venues; ELMS at Imola, The Nürburgring 24 hours, and Moto GP at Le Mans.  TDS racing dominated the Silverstone GTC race with a 2 lap lead.  Let’s see if the Ferrari’s and Aston are able to close that gap during the race.   

The green flag for the 4 hours of Imola will be waived on Sunday at 14h local time.  The race will be broadcasted live on Motorstv and through the ELMS website.

Kristof Vermeulen