Wednesday 21 August 2019

ELMS: Second win in a row for G-Drive in Barcelona

G-Drive Racing raced their way to their second consecutive European Le Mans Series (ELMS) win tonight at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with Roman Rusinov, Job van Uitert and Jean-Eric Vergne putting in a faultless drive in the Aurus 01 Gibson.

A decision by the TDS run team to double-stint its Dunlop tyres saw it take an early lead while the cars in front opted to change tyres and spent longer in the pits at the first pit stop helping the Russian team to a 1 lap lead over the #39 GRAFF by the end of the race.

“It’s a couple of good weekends I’m very happy,” said Vergne. “There was not a single mistake from my teammates. It was a straight forward race for me, but I had fun pushing.”

Behind the Aurus, it was a thrilling race for the remaining podium spots. The #39 GRAFF of Gommendy, Cougnaud and Hirschi eventually took second place after an epic tussle with the #30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca in the closing laps of the race in total darkness, which came to an end after Gommendy made a move stick and snatched second place for GRAFF. Then, on the final lap of the race, Bradley was passed by Antonin Borga in the Cool Racing Oreca to snatch third spot.

Pole-sitters IDEC Sport could only manage fifth place by the end of the race, an additional pit-stop all but sealing the team’s fate.

In LMP3, despite a late drive-through penalty for contact with the #10 Oregon Team Norma, Inter Europol Competition took its first win of the season with their #13 Ligier JS P3 by 11.806s from the #17 Ultimate Norma M 30 but it was no walk in the park with the class showing some of the most battle-scarred racing of the series to date.

“It was a really good race.” Moore said afterwards “We struggled all weekend – to be fair. We know we don’t have the highest speed amongst the Ligiers or the Normas but we have consistency. We had a reasonably strong race and we were very good in the traffic too. Well done to Inter Europol Competition”

 As the flag dropped Jean-Baptiste Layahe in the #17 Ultimate Norma M30 suffered a terrible start and dropped to last position overall promoting Jan Ehrlacher in the #19 M.Racing Norma M30 to third. 13 laps later the Frenchman would inherit second position as the #10 Norma M30 was boxed for repairs.  Soon after the first stops Millara in the #19 had contact with David Heinemeier Hansson in the #56 Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR resulting in the Frenchman having to stop for repairs. Next up, Ross Kaiser in the #6 360 Racing Ligier spun at turn 7 causing a Full Course Yellow (FCY).

At almost the same time the second 360 Racing Ligier was the victim of a fuel fire as Andreas Lasteratos brought the car in at the end of his stint that saw him and one of the crew members suffer minor burns and the car garaged for repairs. Following attention at the circuit Medical Center Laskeratos was cleared fit and returned to drive the final stint and take the car to 13th overall, some 6 laps down.

Having started on pole and traded first place through the race the #11 Eurointernational Ligier went off at Turn 7 and then was eventually retired while another Full Course Yellow episode kicked off.  Despite a valiant tussle in the closing laps with Lahaye in the #17 Ultimate, Tommy Erdos in the #2 United autosports Ligier couldn’t quite hang onto second place and closed out the podium 7.169s behind Lahaye.

In GTE, Luzich Racing’s #51 Ferrari 488 GTE took a comfortable win as Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Fabien Lavergne finished over half a minute clear of the rest of the field; the win giving the AF-Corse run team the points lead in the series.

“We did a very good job working together. We worked hard to get race pace sorted here. We knew tyre degradation would be key. Nicklas did a good job, I just had to manage the pace. Luzich Racing did an amazing job,” Pier Guidi said of the team’s second win of the year.

The initial challenge from the #60 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE faded after multiple incidents for Sergio Pianezzola during his stint eventually dropped the car to last place finishing some 2 laps adrift.

Thus the battle for second ended up between the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari and #55 Spirit of Race 488 with the (still) Le Mans liveried car taking second after a strong run from Matteo Cressoni, Wei Lu and Jeff Segal. The Spirit of Race car eventually finished 6.486s behind to round out the podium.