Thiriet by TDS Racing Wins Rain-Soaked ELMS At Imola

The #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Nissan—powered ORECA 05, driven by Pierre Thiriet, Ryō Hirakawa and Mathias Beche, took the top step of the podium at the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Imola.

Second was the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S in which Simon Dolan took the start, followed by Harry Tincknell and Giedo Van der Garde. Taking the last podium position was the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05-Nissan, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley.

The race finished in a frustrating manner for competitors and spectators alike as torrential rain forced the organisers to call a full course yellow with an hour to go. The race was then further neutralised by a safety car, under which it finished.

In LMP2 the pole-sitting #21 DragonSpeed with Lapierre at the wheel led from from the start. The #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P2, with Paul-Loup Chatin driving, took the lead after an hour during the driver changes. As the raced approached the half-way mark Ryō Hirakawa, at the wheel of the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05, overtook Fabien Barthez in the #23 car for the lead and thereafter the #46 car controlled the race from the front.

The #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S had a promising beginning to the four hour race when Simon Dolan took the start for the Kent-based team from fifth on the grid and handed the car over to Harry Tincknell in the same position. Tincknell pushed hard to get the car into the podium positions and Giedo Van der Garde had got the car into second place with the promise of more to come when the rain struck. It was clear the venerable Gibson 015S had the pace but the lengthy full course yellow and safety car did not allow the team the opportunity to push for the lead.

In LMP3 the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3, driven by Alex Brundle, Michael Guasch and Christian England took the victory, the car’s second of the season, to gain a commanding lead in the series. The #2 car passed the sister #3 car in the opening stages of the race, the #3 car, driven by Mark Patterson, Matthew Bell and Wayne Boyd, eventually finishing seventh in class due to having to serve a drive-through penalty.

Second in the LMP3 class was the #11 Eurointernational Ligier JS P3 driven by Giorgio Mondini, Andrea Roda and Marco Jacobini, a car that ran strongly throughout the race. Taking the final podium spot was the #16 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P3 driven by Éric Debard, Valentin Moineault and Simon Gachet, concluding a satisfying day for the French team.

LMGTE was dominated by the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR 991 driven by Michael Hedlund, Wolf Henzler and Robert Renauer. The #77 car led the class from the start with Renauer putting in a faultless opening double stint. Although the team knew the car was competitive, the pace and consistency of the car was undoubtedly a very pleasant surprise for the Ummendorf-based team. Second in class was the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia with its driver line-up of Robert Smith, Rory Butcher and Andrea Bertolini. Third was the #56 AT Racing Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott.

In the Teams Classification the #38 G-Drive Racing leads LMP2 with 43 points. LMP3 is led by the #2 United Autosports entry with 50 points while the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage leads the LMGTE category with 35 points.

The third round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series will be held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 17.

TF Sport Takes Inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Victory At Imola

Redhill, Surrey-based TF Sport won the inaugural round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, a six-round championship which runs alongside the European Le mans Series.

The #34 Aston Martin V12 Vantage, with Salih Yoluc from Turkey taking the lead-off driving stint, lead from the first corner after an incident between the #88 Mentos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Egido Perfetti and the pole-sitting #7 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari F458 Italia of Luigi Lucchini. The incident resulted in a drive-through penalty for the #88 car and it pitted after four laps, after which it did not rejoin.

Yoluc in the #34 car was then able to pull away from the pack before he passed the car to Euan Hankey. Hankey finished over 16 seconds clear of the #55 FFF Racing Team by ACM Mclaren 650S driven by Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Hiroshi Hamaguchi. The second FFF Racing Team by ACM car, the #5 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 did not start due to damage sustained in the first practice session.

The final podium slot was taken by the #26 Classic & Modern Racing Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 driven by Matthieu Vaxiviere and Nicolas Misslin. The #26 car finished just over 3 seconds ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 driven by Francesco Castellaci who was handed the car by Thomas Flohr. Castellaci was rapidly closing the gap to the #25 car but ran out of laps to claim a podium position.

Although the first round of the new-for-2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup yielded a modest field, it is clear how this series has been positioned to be attractive to the European-based amateur driver. After a race set in the picturesque landscape of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, this championship is bound to attract a lot of attention.

As an additional, and huge, incentive, the winners of the championship earn an entry into the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans

The cars will next see track action in the ‘Road to Le Mans’ race as part of the build-up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 18.

Pole for DragonSpeed at Imola ELMS

Florida-based DragonSpeed, in its debut season in the European Le Mans Series, took pole in qualifying for the second round of the championship at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.

The #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05-Nissan with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel lapped in 1:33.780 to take pole by just under 1/10 of a second from the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05-Nissan driven by Mathis Beche who lapped in 1:33.815.

In third place on the grid for Sunday May 15’s four hour race is the #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P2. Paul-Loup Chatin, who was quickest in both of the previous free practice sessions, lapped in an identical time to the second place car. As the #46 car had established the time a lap earlier, the #23 car will line up on the grid in third place.

In LPM3, in a grid that consists entirely of Nissan-powered Ligier JS P3 chassis, United Autosports enjoyed another solid performance, placing its cars first and third in class on the grid.

The #3 United Autosports car took the class pole with a 1:39.256 with Wayne Boyd at the wheel. The #11 Eurointernational car with Giorgio Mondini driving was second in class with a 1:39.401. Alex Brundle will line up third in class for United Autosports in the #2 car after he lapped in 1:39.623.

Proton Competition will also line up first and third in the LMGTE class for Sunday’s race after Wolf Henzler lapped in 1:41.269 in the #77 Porsche 911 RSR 991 to take class pole. Klaus Bachler in the sister #66 car qualified third in after he put in a 1:41.397. Splitting the two Porsche 911 RSR 991s is the JMW Motorsport #66 Ferrari F458 Italia which lapped in 1:41.310 with Andrea Bertolini at the wheel.

The LMGTE field will be missing one entrant after Formula Racing had to withdraw its #60 Ferrari F458 Italia after damage sustained in FP2 proved impossible to repair in time for the race on Sunday.

The 4 Hours of Imola, the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series, starts at 14:00 local time on Sunday May 15.

Panis-Barthez Compétition Quickest Again in Imola ELMS FP2

The #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P2 was quickest again in the second free practice sessions for the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Imola.

Paul-Loup Chatin, who was first in the car in an interrupted session, put in a 1:33.881. ahead of the #40 Krohn Racing JS P2 driven by Olivier Pla who put in a 1:34.121. Completing the top three in LMP2 was the ##21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05-Nissan with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel with a 1:34.485.

In LMP3 the #7 Villorba Corse Ligier JS P3 topped the time sheets with a 1:40.349 driven by Nicollo Schiro. Second quickest was the #19 Duqueine Engineering JS P3 where Dino Lunardi put in a 1:40.769. Panis-Barthez Compétition must be delighted with its pace this weekend with the #16 Ligier JS P3 third in the session with a 1:40.823 driven by Simon Gachet.

JMW Motorsport again led the field in LMGTE when Andrea Bertolini put in a 1:41.870 in the #66 Ferrari F458 Italia. Klaus Bachler in the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR was again quick with a 1:42.044. AF Corse completed the top three in class with a 1:42.521 driven by Duncan Cameron in the #55 Ferrari F458 Italia.

Qualifying for the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series starts at 13:50 local time.

Panis-Barthez Compétition Tops Time Sheets In Imola ELMS FP1

Paul-Loup Chatin put Panis-Barthez Compétition at the top of the time sheets in the first practice session for the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Imola. His 1:34.435 put the #23 Ligier JS P2 ahead of the #33 Eurasia Motorsport ORECA 05-Nissan driven by Tristan Gommendy, who put in a 1:35.240.

Mathias Beche completed the top three in LMP2 with a 1:35.586 in the Thiriet by TDS Racing #46 Nissan-powered ORECA 05-Nissan.

The #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S, winner last time out Silverstone in round one of the series, finished sixth fastest with a 1:36.032. Giedo Van der Garde was the driver.

Eurointernational was the quickest of the LMP3 class when Giorgio Mondini put in 1:40.099 on his seventh lap. The winners of the 4 Hours of Silverstone in the LMP3 class, the United Autosports #2 Ligier JS P2 driven by Alex Brundle, was second quickest with a 1:40.168. Completing the top three in class was Dino Lunardi in the #19 Duqueine Engineering #19 Ligier JS P3 with a 1:40.271.

In LMGTE the #66 Ferrari F458 Italia of JMW Motorsport with Andrea Bertolini at the wheel put in a 1:42.262 to finish top of the time sheets in class. Mikkal Mac in the #60 Formula Racing Ferrari F458 Italia was second quickest with a 1:42.578. The Proton Competition #88 Porsche 911 RSR rounded out the top three LMGTE runners with a 1:42.772, the car being driven by Klaus Bachler.

The European Le Mans Series grid will be out on track again at 09:35 on May 14 for FP2. Qualifying starts at 13:50 with the LMGTE entrants, followed by LMP3 and finishing with LMP2.

The second round of the European Le mans Series starts at 14:00 on Sunday May 15

Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Launches At Imola

The inaugural round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, and the opening round of the 2016 season takes place at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola on Saturday May 14.

The grid assembled for Saturday’s race represents a foundation on which the ACO will undoubtedly build over the coming months. 11 cars will contest the opening the opening round, representing eight teams from five different countries.

FFF Racing Team by ACM is a young team formed from the joining of FFF Automobile, managed by Fu Songyang and ACM, owned by Andrea Caldarelli. The team has entered a Lamborghini Huracán and a McLaren 650S. The #5 Lamborghini Huracán will be driven by Songyang and Caldarelli. The #55 McLaren 650S will be driven by Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. Quaife-Hobbs moved into endurance racing with Von Ryan Racing in 2015 and already has experience in the McLaren 650S.

Four Ferrari F458 Italia GT3s are entered for Imola. BMS Scuderia Italia has entered the #7 car to be driven by all-Italian line-up of Luigi Lucchini and Mateo Cressoni. Scuderia Villorba Corse has entered the #8 car with French pairing of Cedric Mezard and Steeve Hiesse sharing the driving duties. AF Corse has entered two F458s; the #14 car with Pierre Marie de Leener and Rui Águas at the wheel and the #71 with Felipe Barreiros and Mads Rasmussen sharing the driving duties.

AF Corse will have a busy weekend as it has also entered a Ferrari F488, the #51, which will be driven by Thomas Flohr and Franceso Castellacci. A further F488 is entered by Silverstone-based FF Corse with Johnny Mowlem and Ivor Dunbar, whom Mowlem has coached, at the wheel.

A single Audi R8 LMS is entered by York-based Tockwith Motorsports with its #19 car being driven by Phillip Hanson and Nigel Moore.

TF Sport enters the sole Aston Martin in the augural race with its #34 V12 Vantage GT3, to be driven by Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey.

Mentos Racing rounds off the entrants with its #88 Porsche 911 GT3 R, in which Egido Perfetti is currently the sole declared driver.

Qualifying starts at 11:20 on Saturday May 14 with the lights going out for the start of the two hour race at 17:00 later in the day.

"When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is…. just waiting. " Steve McQueen – "Le Mans" – 1971