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A Dramatic Finale To The 2016 European Le Mans Series (16.10.24)

In an incident-packed race the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S with Giedo van der Garde at the wheel took the lead at the first corner. Nicolas Lapierre, who had started from pole in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05 was being pushed by Fabien Barthez in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P2 until the Frenchman made an error at Turn 4 and spun. There was further excitement when van der Garde in the #38 car made contact with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia with Rui Aguas at the wheel, forcing the Portuguese driver into a spin.

Van der Garde handed over to Simon Dolan at the first pit-stops, with Lapierre in the #21 car handing over to Henrik Hedman. Hedman took the lead after the driver changes but had a brief off-track excursion, giving Dolan the opportunity to take the lead.

Disaster was to strike the Championship-leading #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05 when it became time for Pierre Thiriet to hand over to Ryo Hirakawa. An electrical problem meant that the car would not start and the #46 car was pushed back into the garage, from whence it would not emerge until it was some 20 laps down on the leaders.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK driver Harry Tincknell brought the #38 car home to win the 2016 European Le Mans Series LMP2 teams Standings amidst emotional scenes from a team that had narrowly lost the title in recent years. Nicolas Lapierre brought the #21 Dragon Speed car home for second place. Taking the final podium spot in the LMP2 class was the #32 SMP Racing BR 01 with Stefano Coletti at the wheel.

With the LMP3 Teams Standings already won, United Autosports was looking to assert its dominance in the class at the final round. The Championship-winning #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 with Alex Brundle at the wheel started from class pole. However it was the #18 M.Racing-YMR Ligier JS P3 that took the honours at the final round with Yann Erlacher bringing the car home with the #3 United Autosports entry piloted by Mark Patterson, Matt Bell and Wayne Boyd taking second place. Taking the final podium slot was the #9 Graff entry driven by Eric Trouillet, Paul Petit and Enzo Guibbert.

Alec MacDowall in the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage got off to a flyer from the back of the LMGTE grid and passed the LMGTE Teams Standings leader #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia to take the lead after 14 laps. The #66 car fought back to regain the lead and build a comfortable gap. However bad luck was to strike the #66 car when it was delayed leaving the pits. Worse was to occur when smoke was seen coming from the back of the Championship-leading Ferrari F458. Butcher kept the Ferrari on the circuit until the next pit stop when the car was pushed back into the garage with a gearbox problem.

The #99 car now needed to win the four-hour race as anything less would have given the tile to JMW Motorsport. Darren Turner took the car over but passed it back to MacDowall for the final stint and the honour of bringing the car home to win the GTE Teams and Drivers Standings for Aston Martin Racing.

The drama was entirely fitting for the final round of what will be recognised as a classic season of European Le Mans Series racing.

The opening round of the 2017 season takes place at Silverstone on April 14 – 15.