Friday 20 July 2018

ELMS: The European Le Mans Series arrive in Austria for the third race of the season

The European Le Mans Series return to the Red Bull Ring this weekend for their third race of the 2018 season.  With its stunning setting on the Styrian Alps and top of the line accomodation, the Red Bull Ring is certainly one of the team's – and media's – favourite tracks on the calendar. 

42 cars arrived in Austria for Sunday's 4 hour race; 18 in both the LMP2 and LMP3 class and 6 in the LMGTE category.  G-Drive's Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola arrive in Spielberg as championship leaders with a total of 37 points, and are joined again by newly crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne.  The TDS trio of François Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Loïc Duval are just 1 point behind with 36 points.  It's still unclear though if they will complete in all the remaining rounds of the championship as the team initially only intended to do the opening three races of the season. 

 Le Castellet winners Norman Nato, Olivier Pla and Paul Petit are currently third with 35 points.  All is still to play for between those three teams, so we might well see the championship go undecided 'till the chequered flag at Portimao end October. 

In the LMP3 class it's the #11 Eurointernational drivers Giorgio Mondini and Kay Van Berlo who are leading the series with a 10 point bonus (40 vs 30) on Ross Kaiser and Terrence Woodward in the #6 360 Racing Ligier. Currently in third position with 25,5 points are Rob Garofall, John Farano and Job Van Uitert in the #15 RLR Msport.  Watch out for the #9 AT Racing Ligier this weekend, as it's the home race for father and son Talkanitsa and Mikkel Jensen.

JMW Motorsport leads the LMGTE championship with 37 points after their last lap victory at Le Castellet and a fourth place in Monza. ELMS debutants Ebimotors had a strong start of the season with two podium finishes in the Porsche 911 RSR and are trailing JMW with 31 points. Last years winners at the Red Bull Ring Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott won the race in Monza in May and will be eager do to that again here on Sunday afternoon. 

Oreca dominated today's free practice session, taking up the first eight positions in the LMP2 class. All but one Oreca (the #31 APR Rebellion) finished ahead of the Dallara's and Ligiers in the field.  
Paul Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07 was quickest around the Austrian track. His laptime of 1.20.067 was just 3 thousands of a second faster than Norman Nato in the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca. Matthieu Vaxiviere in the #33 TDS Racing Oreca went third fastest, only 21 thousands behind Nato.  

The first non-Oreca chassis was the #35 SMP Racing Dallara of Matevos Isaakyan who went round in 1.20.836, just under 0.8 seconds slower than Chatin.  Wayne Boyd was the quickest of the Ligier drivers in 10th position overall with a laptime of 1.21.053. 

In LMP3 it was Ultimate who went fastest in their Nissan powered Norma M30. Matthieu Lahaye set a 1.26.927, just 0.018 seconds ahead of Matthew Bell in the #3 United Autosports Ligier.  Another Norma on third place: the #19 M.Racing-YMR of Lucas Legeret, just under 0.4 seconds behind Lahaye. Sean Rayhall in the second United Autosports Ligier and Timur Boguslavkiy in the #5 NEFIS by Speed Factory Ligier rounded out the top 5. 

JMW Motorsport went quickest in the LMGTE class with Miguel Molina at the wheel of the Ferrari F488 in 1.28.829.  Matteo Cairoli put the #88 Proton Competition Porsche on second place, 0.570 seconds behind the Spaniard. Andrea Bertolini in the #83 Krohn Racing Ferrari set the third fastest time this afternoon. 

Text: Kristof Vermeulen