SMP Racing take their first ever LMP2 class win at the 4 hours of Le Castellet. Quick work in the pit stops and a flexible strategy gave the #27 Dallara P217 the lead in the first hour, which increased as the race progressed. The Russian squad took advantage of late race full course yellows to save enough fuel to complete the race with 1 less stop than the rest of the LMP2 field.
A clean start to the race saw the DragonSpeed Orecas stretch their legs and pull a comfortable gap over the leading pack. Ben Hanley led in the #21 car, with Leo Roussel close behind in the G-Drive branded sister car. As the first round of pit stops shook out, the SMP Dallara had leapt from 4th to 1st and looked in control for the rest of the race. Isaakyan and Orudzhev kept the SMP Dallara firmly at the top of the standings whilst the rest of the field ebbed and flowed as teams ran through the Silver rated drivers.
A series of late race Full Course Yellows had the potential to disrupt the SMP party, as G-Drive used the yellows to do a short final fuel splash and give Roussel fresh tyres. But SMP used the yellows to their advantage, saving fuel and allowing them to complete an amazing 51 minutes in the final stint. G-Drive had to settle for second, but extended the championship lead.
Championship contenders United Autosports were forced into recovery mode after a spin on lap 1 sent the car to the back of the pack. The team spent entire race fighting back, eventually claiming a podium spot from Graff in the final minutes of the race. Despite the strong recovery, the team loses points to the G-Drive Oreca, now 7 points adrift.
United Autosports win LMP3
United Autosports take their third LMP3 class win of the season, taking a commanding lead in the LMP3 standings. A superb middle stint from Sean Rayhall lifted the car from 4th to the lead, which gave John Falb the advantage he needed to bring the car home. The win moves the #2 United Autosports Ligier 12 points clear of the now second placed #18 M.Racing – YMR car.
LMP3 was the usual street fight, with contact a regular occurrence and the class attracting the attention of the race director multiple times. The rough and tumble nature of the race was costly for Ultimate Racing. After a strong start, contact with other cars dropped them back into the pack, eventually finishing 6th and losing second in the championship.
Two in a row for Spirit of Race
A dominant display at the Red Bull Ring was followed up by an equally dominant race at Paul Ricard for the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari. The team finished a massive 50 seconds ahead of TF Sport Aston Martin, who nipped the JMW Ferrari for second by little over a second.
The Ferrari was clearly the dominant car, with Aston Martin and Porsche drivers blaming the BoP For lack of performance. It took a while for the true performance of the Ferrari to become clear, as the Proton Racing Porsche led the early laps, and the Beechdean Aston Martin kept the leaders honest.
The Proton Porsche suffered badly as the race went on, with even Christian Ried struggling to extract speed from the 911 RSR. The car looked a handful, struggling to hit apexes and power on oversteer being issues throughout the race.
Conversely, the TF Sport Aston Martin struggled with dive plane damage for the opening hours, but came good at the end. Nicki Thiim dragged the V8 Vantage up the order, grabbing second from the JMW Ferrari at the end of race.
ELMS heads to Spa
There are a few talking points as the ELMS paddock heads to Spa for the 4th round of the championship. SMP and Dallaras first win, the performance of the LMP2 chassis, the Norma performance, the GTE BoP, and more. Stick around for all that and more.