Greaves Motorsport won the opening round of the European Le Mans Series after a late-race altercation between Jon Lancaster and Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Tristan Gommendy.
Gommendy spun after making contact with Lancaster at the apex of Aintree corner, dropping the French driver down to third behind the #38 JOTA Sport Gibson 015S of Harry Tincknell.
Tincknell had originally been best placed to take overall victory, although a spin at Becketts while chasing down Lancaster in the last 30 minutes pegged the British driver back. However, after Gommendy’s incident, Tincknell was able to eat into Lancaster’s six second lead to the point that he was on the Greaves man’s tail heading onto the final lap.
Former GP2 race-winner Lancaster held on to secure victory by just under half a second from the blisteringly quick Tincknell.
The race started as dramatically as it finished, with the #34 AF Corse ORECA 03 of Kirill Ladygin spinning at the first corner. The Russian driver then collected Léo Roussel in the #29 Pegasus Racing Morgan, which suffered terminal damage as a result.
At the head of the field, the two Gibsons of Greaves Motorsport and JOTA Sport were setting the initial pace. Filipe Albuquerque and Gary Hirsch traded positions several times before JOTA driver Albuquerque found a permanent way through on lap 12, a position that he would hold until the first round of pit stops. The action was tense throughout the field, with Nicolas Minassian and Michael Lyons almost coming to blows at the first corner. AF Corse driver Minassian later told TCF that it was “fair racing”, although Lyons’ hand gestures directed towards the Frenchman portrayed the other side of the story.
After the pit stops Albuquerque had accrued a healthy 22 second lead over Hirsch, who then ate into the Portuguese driver’s advantage, pushing the gap down to 15 seconds. However, the race soon stabilised and Albuquerque was able to hand the car over to Simon Dolan just before the midway point with the JOTA squad still in control.
Momentum swung back in Greaves’ direction at the halfway point, with former Jaguar F1 test driver Bjorn Wirdheim building a healthy gap over Dolan. During this time the front-running Murphy Prototypes car of Nathanael Berthon retired from the race, with the diagnosis being an unspecified electrical issue.
Gommendy then set off in pursuit of Dolan, whom he dispatched comfortably at Brooklands. The Thiriet driver then took the lead of the race with a daring move at Club corner. With Gommendy on older tyres, the two Gibson teams switched their drivers for the final sprint to the finish.
Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson won the first race of the new LMP3 era, securing victory by one lap ahead of the sister Team LNT entry of Mike Simpson and Gaetan Paletou. The University of Bolton Ginetta-Nissan LMP3 of Rob Garofall and Jens Petersen finished third on the podium, 23 seconds behind the second placed duo. The five Ginettas were both reliable and quick, and point towards a healthy future for cost-effective international sportscar racing.
The LMGTE class was initially dominated by the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, although the car’s day quickly deteriorated after Peter Mann made heavy contact with the barriers on the outside of Woodcote. Mann’s incident also picked up the #81 sister GTC car of Stephen Wyatt, which was forced to retire on the spot.
In the second half of the race the #86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 RSR emerged as the car to beat, with Mike Wainwright squeezing past erstwhile class leader George Richardson (#66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari) in the Maggots/Becketts complex.
The order remained that way for the remainder of the contest, with Gulf Racing UK leading a memorable British 1-2. The #55 AF Corse Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott ran a largely trouble free race to finish third.
In GTC, the pole-sitting Thiriet by TDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3 of Eric Dermont, Dino Lunardi and Franck Perera took a commanding class win, two laps ahead of the #64 AF Corse Ferrari. In the first two hours the #68 Massive Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 led the way, and was involved in a tense scrap for first with the #63 AF Corse Ferrari. However, these two cars were eliminated from play after making contact at the final corner, paving the way for the Thiriet squad to develop an unassailable lead.
The result means that Greaves Motorsport currently lead the ELMS teams’ championship. The next round of the championship is the 4 Hours of Imola, which takes place on May 17.
2015 4 Hours of Silverstone Race Result
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