Friday 22 May 2015

Thiriet by TDS grabs the win in Imola

After another 4 hours of great racing, it was the Thiriet by TDS Oreca 05 who grabbed the win in Imola's ELMS race last weekend. 

© ELMS - John Rourke/Adrenal Media
Harry Tincknell, behind the wheel of the #38 Jota Sport managed a comfortable 18 second lead after half an hour of racing. Behind him, the battle for 2nd to 5th was fierce with Mark Patterson in the Murphy prototype defending his second place with a charging Roussel (Pegasus) and Windheim (Greaves) behind him and Pierre Thiriet joining in after 8 laps. Thiriet started the race in 9th place after an off in qualifying, but his Oreca-Nissan showed outright speed and charged through the pack to the battle for second place.

The first safety car was deployed on lap 19 after Henry Hassid visited the gravel trap at Villeneuve chicane with his Marc VDS BMW Z4. This ment Tincknell's lead was gone by the restart, but he managed to build up a new gap to the by then second placed Oreca 05 of Thiriet by the first pitstops. Lap 60 saw a second safety car on track after the #5 Villorba Corse Ginetta parked himself at the entrance of the pitlane. In the meantime Simon Dolan took over the Jota from Tincknell but had to come in again with a damaged front left wing, after attacking the curbs too hard while navigating through slower traffic. After the safety car period, the Thiriet Oreca, now driven by Ludovic Badey, was leading with the Murphy LMP2 second and Hirsch in the Greaves Motorsport Gibson on third place, despite a spin at the end of the safety car period.

© TDS Racing
Badey and Hirsch battled out for the lead but Hirsch lost some time while overtaking the #29 Pegasus, after which Badey managed to build up a comfortable lead.  Gommendy controlled the race afterwards and brought Thiriet by TDS and the Oreca 05 its maiden win. The Murphy LMP2 finished second after a strong team effort with 63 year old Patterson in the opening stint, a double stint from Michael Lyons and a strong finish of Nathanael Berthon. Jota came in third, despite a late pitstop at the very end of the race and a 95 second penalty after an irregular pitstop. Jon Lancaster placed the Greaves' Gibson on 4th place, ahead of Krohn Racings Ligier-Judd. The SMP BR01 prototypes ran at the back of the LMP2 field, collecting data for the Le Mans debut with the #37 car finishing in 8th place and the #27 having to retire in the final hour of the race with a fuel leak.

In the LMP3 class, the #7 University of Bolton Ginetta took the honours with a comfortable 2 lap lead over the competition. Charlie Robertson took pole in his LNT-Ginetta and built up a comfortable lead in the early stages of the race but a penalty and technical issues saw him falling back into the order. The SVK by Speed Factory Ginetta took the lead for a brief time but had to settle with second place, holding off the #23 Lanan car.

The GTE class brought some thrilling racing with the top 4 cars only separated by seconds in the last 2 hours of the race. After 4 hours, the #56 AT Racing Ferrari took the chequered flag ahead of the #88 Proton Porsche 911 and the #60 Formula racing Ferrari. Despite dropping down the field at the start after an unfortunate spin, Allessandro Pier Guidi managed to hold off the competition at the chequered flag, with just seconds dividing the top 4 in class.

AF Corse dominated GTC with a clean sweep on the podium. Stuart Hall took the win in the #62 Ferrari ahead of #63 and #64. Massive Motorsports Aston Martin was quickly out of contention, so the AF Corse Ferrari's only had the TDS Racings BMW Z4 challenging them. Unfortunately the BMW lacked outright speed, so the Ferrari's could battle it out for the podium.

11 ELMS teams now head on the Le Mans for the 24 hours, the next ELMS race is at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on July 12th.