Tuesday 22 August 2017

ELMS 2017 - The 4 Hours of Le Castellet kicks off the second part of the season

The 4 Hours of Le Castellet will kick off the second part of the 2017 European Le Mans Series season, after a 4 week summer break since the Red Bull Ring.  35 cars will be on the grid on Sunday; 12 in LMP2, 17 in LMP3 and 6 in the GTE class. With still everything to play for in the championship in all three classes, a weather forecast up to 30 degrees all weekend and one of Europe's most advanced race tracks, the fourth round of the season will get you to the edge of your seat again.

The track layout will be somewhat different from what we've been used to in the past years at Le Castellet, as a chicane will be added on the 1,8 km long Mistral straight. Given the increased power and - most of all - top speeds of the new LMP2's, the chicane has been added for safety reasons.

12 cars will compete in LMP2 in the south of France this weekend. All full season entrants are on the grid except for the #34 Gulf coloured Tockwith Motorsport Ligier, which has been withdrawn for the remainder of the season as revealed by dailysportscar earlier this month.

SMP Racing returns for their second race this season in the #27 Dallara with Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev behind the wheel again. 

G-Drive Racing leads the championship in the LMP2 class after winning the race in Monza and podium finishes in Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring last month. With 62 points, the Russian team has an advantage of just 4 points on United Autosports which won the 4 Hours of Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring, but only finished 6th in Monza.

Two teams are tied on the third place in the 2017 championship: Danish High Class Racing (#47) and the #39 Graff, both with 34 points. The second Graff Oreca rounds out the top 5 with 28 points after three races.

The #2 United Autosports and #17 Ultimate Ligier are both leading the championship so far with a total of 45 points. They are closely followed by the #18 M.Racing-YMR, just 2 points behind the leaders. After their victory in Austria last month, the #11 Eurointernational climbed to fourth place, 10 points behind the leaders.  In fifth position is the second United Autosports Ligier JSP3 with 28 points. 

Two driverchanges are to be noted in the LMP3 class: Nicolas Melin replaces Douglas Lundberg in the #8 Duqueine Engineering Norma and Maxwell Hanratty will be behind the wheel of the #12 Eurointernational instead of James Dayson. 

No changes in the GTE field for this upcoming race, with all 6 usual suspects travelling down to Le Castellet for the weekend. 

TF Sport (Aston Martin) leads the championship with 59 points after a win in Silverstone and podium finishes in both Monza and Red Bull Ring  with 59 points. JMW Motorsport is second, 6 points behind the leaders.  With their new Ferrari which has raced in ELMS for the first time in Austria, JMW will be TF Sport's biggest rivals for the title this year. Behind both leaders, 3 teams are tied on 38 points: Spirit of Race (Ferrari #55), Proton Competition (#77 Porsche) and defending champions Beechdean AMR (#99 Aston Martin).  

Action on track starts Friday morning with the Bronze driver test at 11h20. The first 90 minute practice session will be green flagged Friday afternoon at 15h05. The 4 Hours of Le Castellet will start on Sunday, 12h00 local time in France. 

Entry to the track is – as always in the European Le Mans Series – free.  Paddock access including a pit walk on Saturday afternoon and the driver autograph session on Sunday morning is available for 10 €. 

Useful links:
Entry List
Spotter Guide 

Kristof Vermeulen