United Autosports held off a recovery charge from G-Drive by DragonSpeed racing to take the win at the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring. Proving there is more to winning that owning an Oreca, the team executed a brilliant late race pit stop to leap the #22 G-Drive car in the last 20 minutes of the race.
DragonSpeed looked to control the race from the start, locking out the front row in qualifying, but United Autosports threw a spanner into the works at the start and split the DragonSpeed cars into turn 1. Super-silver driver, Leo Roussel used the clear track to his advantage and ran off into an early lead in the G-Drive branded car, whilst Lapierre played catch-up in the sister Oreca.
Despite leading much of the race, the win never looked comfortable for DragonSpeed. In the final splash and dash pit stops, United Autosports and Filipe Albuquerque emerged 12 seconds in front of Roussel. With just 18 minutes to go, there wasn’t time for Roussel to respond.
The #21 DragonSpeed car would never reach the podium, and spluttered to a stop at the end of the 3rd hour. The team reporting fuel problems were the cause of the DNF. Graff Racing managed an unexpected 3rd and 4th places, with SMP in 5th in their first race back in the ELMS. The win for United closes the gap in the championship to G-Drive to just 4 points. High Class Racing are currently third in their debut LMP season.
After the domination of the Oreca 07 at Le Mans, it was clear that the playfield was more level when the cars were fitted with the regular high downforce kits. DragonSpeed may have been fastest over a single lap, but United Autosports Ligier JS P217 was never out of contention. Equally encouraging was the bursts of speed from the Dallara P217 chassis – SMP, High Class Racing and Cetilar Villorba Corse all showing they had pace at various points.
The LMP3 race had an equally dramatic finish, as the leading #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 receiving a drive through penalty for track limits violations in the final moments of the race. The car emerged from the pit lane with a small lead over the #11 Eurointernational Ligier, which it held to the end. Like the opening round at Silverstone, United Autosports celebrates wins in both LMP2 and LMP3 classes.
The race ebbed and flowed, as LMP3 races tend to do, and the early bets were on Duqueine Engineering with the Norma – the M30 once again proving it has the pace to fight with the Ligiers. With 90 minutes to go, the #7 Norma spun and was unable to rejoin under its own power, leaving Ligier to sweep the top 6.
At the time of writing, the results are provisional. The first and second placed cars are under investigation for speeding under FCY.
Ferrari took a dominant 1-2 in the GTE class as #55 Spirit of the Race won by almost 20 seconds over JMW. Ferrari were only robbed of a 1-2-3 in class by Nicki Thiim, piloting the TF Sport Aston Martin. The podium was perhaps a surprise to the championship leading TF Sport crew, as Salih Yoluc complained that the unfavourable BoP crippled the Aston Martins.
At the time of writing, the results are provisional. The third placed car is under investigation for speeding under FCY.
Report by Dave Ellis / theRacingLine.net