Monday, 28 September 2015

Porsche Rennsport Reunion V, automotive heaven in Monterey

This weekend, the fifth edition of Porsche Rennsport Reunion transformed the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey into a true Porsche walhalla.  Take ideal weather conditions, add a staggering setup of cars and drivers ... automotive heaven set up camp in California last weekend.

Porsche Rennsport Reunion is the world's greatest gathering of Porsche racecars, celebrating more than 60 years and countless victories of Porsche in motorsports. With this only being the fifth edition in 15 years (edition IV took place in 2011), anticipation for this unique event was high, attracting Porsche and motorsport enthousiasts from all over the world. No other manufacturer has such a rich history and constant succes in motosport and sportscar racing; celebrating the "Legends at Le Mans" couldn't be a better theme for this edition of Rennsport Reunion.  Surely not after celebrating their record breaking 17th overall victory at Le Mans past June with the 919 Hybrid LMP1.  The original date for the event set to clash with the WEC round at Fuji was even rescheduled to be able to have the Le Mans winning car at Laguna Seca over the weekend, adjacent to Porsches third consecutive victory in the WEC at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin last weekend.

2 Grand Marshals have been named for this edition of Rennsport Reunion.  Jacky Ickx, "Monsieur Le Mans", six time Le Mans winner, Formula 1 racer (and winner), two times sportscar world champion, Paris Dakar winner & Can Am champion; the 71 year old Belgian has one of the greatest racing careers around. Co-Grand Marshal is 67 year old Hurley Haywood, one of the most succesful American endurance drivers.  He won Le Mans three times, the Daytona 24 five times, two victories in the Sebring 12h and has two IMSA GT titles under his belt.  Combining both champions achievements in racing, it will be hard to find better ambassadors representing Porsches rich history at that certain village in France.  

The amount of cars on and around the track is massive.  There's just too many to list.  From the early cars of the 1950's with the 356 and 550 to the mighty 917's, 935 "Moby Dick", the impressive 956 and 962, the 911 GT1 who gave Porsche their 16th win at Le Mans, the LMP2 Spyder which made its debut at Laguna Seca back in 2005 and last but not least the Le Mans winning LMP 919 Hybrid on track for some daily demo laps.  Overall there were 300+ racecars on track during the weekend.  Some of them exclusively brought over from the Porsche museum in Stuttgart, others from raceteams and private collections such as Brumos Racing, the Rev's institute, the Ingram collection and Canepa design.  Add to that an extra ordinary selection of cars on display in the paddock with all Porsche Le Mans winning race cars presented in the pit garages and a selection of 75 racecars in the Heritage exposition, most of them also linked to the 24 hours of Le Mans, and it was hard to know where to look first.  In the car corrals inside the track, more than 1400 cars were lined up, on the parking lots probably even more.  

At Porsche's centre feature in the paddock, the Legends of Le Mans display showed 3 of the most iconic cars in Porsche history; the 356, 917K and 919 Hybrid. Perhaps the most anticipated car was the #46 Porsche 365.  This is the first Porsches works entry at the Le Mans in 1951, immediately winning its class (under 1500 cc) and finishing 20th overall.  Since 1951, every year a Porsche has raced at Le Mans, another record streak that still stands today.  The #23 red/white Porsche 917 K won the race at La Sarthe in 1970, the first outright Le Mans win for Porsche, with Richard Attwood and Hans Hermann at the wheel.  1970 was also the backdrop for Steve McQueen's Le Mans movie.  The 919 Hybrid gave Porsche its record breaking 17th victory at Le Mans earlier this year.  Porsche also intruduced a limited edition 911 Carrera GTS Rennsport Edition, of which only 25 will be produced.  Pretty exclusive stuff !

Renn Reunion is not only about the cars, it's also about the legendary Porsche drivers who attend this event in big numbers and mingle inbetween the fans with interviews, autograph sessions ...  Some "legends" that can be found around the paddock during the weekend are Vic Elford, Derek Bell, Hurley Haywood, Jürgen Barth, Gerard Larousse, Jackie Oliver, Jochen Mass, Gijs Van Lennep, Hans Stuck ... Besides the legends, lots of Porsche (factory)drivers are making their appearance this weekend. Fred Machowieky, Le Mans winners Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, Mark Webber, Patrick Long, Brendon Hartley, Norbert Singer ("father" of the Porsche 962) ... the list is endless.

Over the weekend, racing on the track was divided over 7 different groups, each celebrating an era of Porsche race- and/or sportscars.
Group 1 PCA Sholar-Friedman cup
This class is exclusively reserved for Porsche Club America cars
Group 2 Gmund Cup
Early Porsche racecars from the 1950's to the early 60's
550(A) - RSK - RS60-61 - 2000GT - Abarth Carrera - 356 - 904
Group 3 Eifel Trophy
All early 911's up to 2.5 litres and the 914
911 - 911TR - 911 ST - 914 (4 and 6)
Group 4 Weissach Cup
Porsche prototypes with fibreglass body's from the 1960's to 1971
904 - 906 - 907 - 908 - 909 - 917
Group 5 Carrera Trophy
All Porsche Carrera's over 2,5 liter : RSR - 3.0 RSR - 2.1 Turbo - 934 - 935 - 936 - 924 GTS - 924 GTR
Group 6 Stuttgart Cup
Protoypes and GT cars from 1982 to 2016 : 956 - 962 - GT1 - WSC - RS Spyder - 964 - 993 - 996 - 997 GT cars
Group 7 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
The seventh and final class is the  Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA which had its season finale and crowned Elloit Skeer in his rookie season as 2016 champion on Sunday.

During practice and qualifying track action was quite smooth, but as soon as the green flag falls down on race day, these cars are being used for what they're made for ... go fast and go hard. Close battles, yellow flags and safety cars are no exception during these hictoric races with expensive and rare machinery.  Some end up in the gravel trap, the rather unlucky ones go home with some scratches and bruises on their bodywork. In the end it just feels right to see the racing heritage lives on, using these amazing cars to what they have truly been built for on a track instead of a museum.  Watching these vintage racecars going round the track, takes you back into time ... when a racecar still sounded like a proper racecar should, and looked the part. 

In 2001, the first edition of Rennsport Reunion attracted 2000 people, the last edition in 2011 34000 Porsche enthousiasts visited Laguna Seca.  This weekend, during the fifth edition, over 57.000 people found their way to the track.  As Detlev von Platen, president and CEO of Porsche cars north America said in his closing speech on Sunday afternoon, this whole weekend was more than just a gathering.  "It was real magic, a pure Porsche paradise with a unique atmosphere bringing people together like a family reunion.

If you're a petrolhead, this event has to be on your bucketlist, there's no other place on earth where such a collection of Germans finest is on display.  Next edition in 4 years, think I've got a date with Laguna Seca in 2020 !

More pictures and race results to follow !

Kristof Vermeulen.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Double victory for Porsche in Texas

Porsche dominated the Lone Star Le Mans weekend at COTA, taking the win in the LMP1 and LM GTE-pro categories at the 6 hours of the Americas.

Mark Webber, out for revenge after losing pole position at the very end of the qualifying session, took the lead at turn 1, passing Neel Jani.  Behind them, Sebastien Buemi in the #1 Toyota split both Audis giving the Porsches the chance to cruise away from the competition.  When Andre Lotterer took 4th place back from Buemi, it seemed like the LMP1 race was slowly settling itself.  Halfway the race, Mike Conway started to struggle with traffic in his Toyota.  2.5 hours into the race he had a spin at turn 10 trying to pass the #88 Porsche and #96 Ferrari, half an hour later he crashed the Toyota coming out of turn 11, causing the second (and last) full course yellow of the race.  Both Porsches continued to control the race with the #17 still ahead.  Right before the 4 hour mark however, the leading Porsche #17 got a 60 second stop and go penalty after a pit infringement, giving the lead to the sister car.  When Mark Webber overshot his pit a bit later, it seemed like all hope for a second consecutive win was gone.  With a bit more than half an hour to go, the race leading #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid suddenly came into the pitlane with an electrical issue, only to come back out to complete the final lap of the race.  Brendon Hartley took the lead again, comfortably bringing the car home in front of both Audi's; the #7 car second and #8 third.  The latter losing its hard fought second place also after a 1 minute stop and go penalty.  ByKolles was the first LMP1 privateer ahead of both Rebellions who (again) suffered with several electrical gremlins during the race.  

As usual, LMP2 saw several hard fought battles, with G-Drive racing clinching the win after 6 hours in their #26 Ligier-Nissan.  With the KCMG Oreca 05 starting at the back of the field, it was obvious they were going to play catch-up to get to the front of the field.  It took Richard Bradley just over an hour to take the lead from the #26, getting into a battle that would last for most of the race. In between pitstop strategy from the leading prototypes, the #36 Signatech Alpine and the #30 ESM Ligier both shortly took the lead in the race. Near the half way point, Ed Brown lost his brakes on the #31 Extreme Speeds Motorsports Ligier-Nissan at the entry of turn 20, causing him to fly over the curb and crash hard into the safety barriers.  Luckily for Brown the car didn't turn over, and he could walk away unharmed.  Behind the KCMG and both G-Drive cars, the #30 ESM, #36 Alpine and #43 Morgan got into a frantic battle for fourth place, finishing in within less than a second after 6 hours.   In the end it was G-Drive Racing that took the upper hand, winning the race with the #26 Ligier-Nissan, ahead of the #47 KCMG and the #28 G-Drive.

The Aston Martins took a strong start in GTE-Pro but, struggling with the heat, their pace quickly faded away.  Both Porsche Team Manthey 911's didn't seem to suffer from the heat, and dominated the 6 hour race, running without any problems.  Early in the race the #92 of Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki took the lead, ahead of the #91 driven by Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen.  Both cars ran for almost 6 hours in close formation, the win decided by the final series of pitstops when the #92 took over the #91.  Behind the unbeatable Porsches, AF Corse's #51 Ferrari 458 Italia seems te be cursed since the Nürburgring.  The early championship leaders ran into trouble for the second race in a row, only managing 7th at the finish.  With the #51 in trouble and the Astons struggling for pace, the #71 took a fairly easy third place in Texas.

GTE-AM saw more action, with both Proton Porsches and the Ferrari's of AF Corse and SMP Racing battling it out for the lead. Patrick Long in the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche had a strong start from pole, mixing into the Pro cars before handing the car over to Patrick Dempsey.  By the end of the second stint it was the #82 AF Corse Ferrari on top, until Le Mans winner Earl Bamber fought himself to the lead in the #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche.  Meanwhile the #50 Larbre Corvette fell back after a strong start, where as both Aston Martin never really were in contention for a podium finish.  The current championship leaders, Victor Shaytar, Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov came through in the fifth hour of the race, taking over the lead from the #88 Porsche and drove off to win their third consecutive win in class.  Behind them, the #88 kept on to second place.  The battle for third went on to the finish, with Marco Seefried in the #77 ultimately losing the final podium spot to the #83 Ferrari. A hard result for the Dempsey Proton Racing team after a succesful weekend with the first pole position in class and a very strong start of the race. 

In the championship, the Porsche #17 crew closed the gap to the #7 Audi boys to 10 points. Audi has some work to do to close the gap again with Porsche, whose hybrid system is much more powerful at the moment.  There's still 3 races to go in the 2015 championship, it surely seems like we're off for an exciting season finale ! 

Useful links : 
Race highlights
Championship standings

Kristof Vermeulen

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Another clean sweep for Porsche in 2015 COTA qualifying


Matt Howson in #47 KCMG Oreca stalled on the climb up to turn 1
Drama at the start of this afternoon's LMP qualifying session, when the #47 KCMG Oreca in the hands of Matt Howson stalled on the climb up to turn 1, resulting in a red flag.  When the green flag fell again, Porsche kept their clean sheet this season and scored a 5th consecutive pole.  Marc Lieb and Neel Jani put down the fastest average time, after an amazing lap by Jani (1.46.00) during his second stint in the dying moments of the session.  #18 on pole, right ahead of the #17 Porsche, both Audi's and both Toyota's.  Rebellion took (as expected) pole in the privateer class.

After their misfortune at the start of the session, the KCMG Oreca got towed back to the paddock, and joined in the qualifying session.  Matt Howson and Richard Bradley stormed through the session, ultimately to take pole ahead of both G-drive Ligiers and the #20 ESM prototype.  However,  it's more than possible that KCMG will get penalized for rejoining the session again.  LMP2 results are under investigation, so G-Drive might start from pole tomorrow.  Misfortune also for the Signatech Alpine team, who ran into technical problems during their pitstop and weren't able to let 2 drivers set a time. 

Surprise in GTE Pro with Fernando Rees and Richie Stanaway taking the pole in their #99 Aston Martin Vantage V8.  Throughout the practice sessions, they've improved the car all the time, just in time to outscore the #91 Porsche and #95 Aston Martin.  Both AF Corse Ferrari's struggled this afternoon and only managed to get to the bottom of the grid.   Patrick Long & Patrick Dempsey scored their first ever pole in the GTE Am class, and where better to do that in your home race.  Dempsey started strong, Long, who praised Dempsey for his progress in the last races,  finished the job with an impressive qualifying lap.    The Aston Martin #96 got second fastest, #38 AF Corse completes the top 3 in class. In both GTE classes the top 5 is only separated by a mere 0.5 seconds, we're in for another nailbiting battle between the GTE cars tomorrow.

Earlier today it was Porsche all over again in the third and final practice session.  This time it was Brendon Hartley (#17) putting in the fastest lap, ahead of Neel Jani in the #19 sister car and bot Audi's & Toyota's.   In LMP2 this time it was Signatech Alpine who was fastest, ahead of KCMG and the Morgan of Team SARD Morand who put in their best performance of the season so far.  GTE Pro was very close again, with Patrick Pilet putting the #92 on top.  In GTE Am, Aston Martin got fastest with Pedro Lamy in the #98 ahead of the #50 Corvette.

The morning session was briefly interrupted after a collision between the #26 G Drive Ligier and the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche.  The Ligier managed to get back out by the end of the session, the Porsche stayed in with a damaged left rear.

Remarkable guest at Porsche today : Juan Pablo Montoya.  There are talks going round that the Colombian driver gets to test the Porsche 919 after the season.  Montoya's contract in Indycar ends after the 2016 season, might he join the Porsche team afterwards.  It could give him a shot to win the "triple crown of motorsport"; Le Mans, Indy 500 and F1 in Monaco. So far only Graham Hill was able to complete the treble.  

The 2016 WEC calendar should be presented at COTA this weekend, but so far it's been silent around the new schedule.  Final negotiations with tracks would be going on but up until now without any news.  Will the Nürburgring keep its spot after a successful edition (62000 spectators), will te prologue stay at Paul Ricard (or move to Monza as rumoured), we're all eager to know the answers. 

The Lone Star Le Mans 6 hour race into the night starts at 5 pm on Saturday (local time).  Weather forecasts are hot, really hot with predictions of 38° Celsius and higher.  This race will be exhausting for man and machine !

Saturday AM update - KCMG #47 demoted to back of grid for driving in the wrong direction on circuit, #26 G-Drive Ligier takes P2 pole


Kristof Vermeulen.

Friday, 18 September 2015

WEC COTA, Thursday gallery

Thursday gallery - 6 Hours of the Americas




















Full gallery can be found here

Kristof Vermeulen

Porsche on top after Thursday practice

Porsche set the fastest laptimes in both practice sessions on Thursday, though it took a late charge by Timo Bernhard in the #17 car to get the first spot in the night session.


In the afternoon session it was Romain Dumas who set the fastest time in a blistering 1.42.231, the fastest lap ever done by an LMP1 car at COTA.  Mark Webber put his Porsche 919 on second place, ahead of the #8 Audi.  Both Toyota's came in 4th and 5th, ahead of the #7 Audi who had alternator issues early in the session and only managed to complete a few laps.  KCMG continued to dominate the LMP2 class in their Oreca 05 ahead of both Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier-Nissans who put in a strong performance at their home track.


The Ferrari #51 hit trouble again in GTE Pro when it stopped on track early in the session, apparently with the same issues they had at te Nürburgring a few weeks ago.  The #71 Ferrari took the honours instead, ahead of the #92 Porsche.  Patrick Long put in a strong performance in the #77 Dempsey Proton 911 RSR, mingling in between the pro cars, and well ahead of the #50 Larbre Corvette and the #83 Ferrari F458 Italia.



Lucas Di Grassi seemed to have the upper hand in the evening session, ahead of both Porsche 919's, untill both Porsches hammered it down at the end of the session.  Mark Webber ultimately got 0.242 seconds faster than Di Grassi, with the #18 Porsche getting the third fastest time.  In the privateer category the #12 Rebeillon R-One outpaced the #8 ByKolles.  After Nicolas Lapierre had an off in the KCMG Oreca, the #27 G-Drive Ligier-Nissan was fastest in LMP2, ahead of KCMG and the blue #36 Signatech Alpine.

Laptimes in GTE were very close with the top 6 cars within 1 second.  Patrick Pilet was fastest in the Porsche #92, ahead of James Calado in the #71 Ferrari and the #91 sister car.  Victor Shaytar was fastest in the Am-category, half a second faster than the #83 Ferrari and the #96 Aston Martin.

At the pre-event press conference this afternoon, Scott Sharp confirmed that the Patron ESM team will continue its efforts in WEC next season.  "WEC fits perfectly in the Tequila Patron strategy which is leaning towards their worldwide expansion.  2015 has been a challenging year for the team, not at least after having to chance of chassis 3 times early in the season.  It's a year full of learning the new championship, new tracks, new competition ... and it's hard to put it all together so quickly.  It's to be back at COTA, our home race on a track we know very well, giving the team a lot more comfort.  The morning session gave us the best result of the season, so we're looking forward to the rest of the weekend".

Mike Conway spoke about the tough year Toyota has had so far and the development of the car for next season. "Contrary to last year, when we had a very fast car, dominating almost every race and giving us a shot at several victories, it's tough to struggle to hold the pace this year.  It's a big gap with the frontrunners, one that we never expected.  We've got to ride it out and focus ourselves on 2016 and the development of the new car.  After a disappointing start of the season, we were quite early thinking about 2016 and the challenges to find extra seconds and adapt to a new hybrid system.  We'll be pushing the 2015 car right untill the end, with a bit of luck we might even be able to score one or more podium finishes in the races to come."

The final free practice is scheduled at 10.30 am (local time) today, qualifying in the afternoon.

Kristof Vermeulen

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

WEC races into the night at COTA this weekend

Time for the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship 2015, this time at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The Lone Star Le Mans weekend is all about endurance racing with not only WEC on the menu but also the IMSA Tudor United Sportscar Championship.  Including support races with the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup USA and Lamborghini Trofeo, the weekend will be packed with exciting races.

The Circuit of the Americas, built in 2011-2012 is the only FIA certified grade 1 track in the USA.  It's  5.5 km long and runs counterclockwise.  20 turns in total with a steep run uphill into Turn 1 and some very fast sweeping sections all over the track.  Turns 12-15 have a real stadion atmosphere, twisting in front of the grandstands.  The 77 meter high observation tower gives amazing views of the track and its surroundings.

Audi has won all three previous races at COTA, and actually hasn't been beaten on US soil in WEC as they also won the opening race at Sebring in 2012.  Aston Martin has the same unbeaten record at COTA after winning both GTE classes in 2013 and 2014.  

31 cars will race in Texas this weekend, home race for the US based Extreme Speed Motorsports team in LMP2.  9 entries in LMP1 with Porsche on a high after winning back to back at Le Mans and the Nüburgring last month, and eager to score their third win in a row.  KCMG also won the last 3 races in LMP2 but will face tough competition from G-Drive racing, ESM and the other teams on the 8-car grid.  The winning Le Mans crew is reunited at KCMG with Nicolas Lapierre taking his seat again in the Oreca05.  Seven entries in LMGTE-Pro, with works teams of Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin.    No Stefan Mucke at Aston Martin as he has to race in Germany this weekend, Jonathan Adam will take his seat in the #97.  Last minute change in the #96 Aston Martin with Benny Simonsen taking Roald Goethe's place.  IN GTE it's the Larbre Corvette against Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari once more, with a seven car grid.  Aston Martin changed a few liveries on their cars, the #97 Vantage will race in the yellow/red Hanergy livery; the #99 returns to its blue/yellow Valero livery.


Jim Hall has been named Grand Marshal for the 2015 Lone Star Le Mans event.  Hall has built and created the concept of the iconic Chaparral racecars in the 60's, introducing aerodynamics into the racing world. Chaparral cars were most known in endurance racing, Can Am and later on made the switch to Indycar.

On Monday, the announcement was made that Gibson Technology has been selected as the sole supplier for LMP2 engines in 2017 when the new LMP2 regulations come into force.  This applies to WEC, ELMS, Asian LMS and the IMSA championship (in IMSA teams will though be allowed to use other engines).  At the same time Cosworth Electronics has been selected as the supplier for electronics in all LMP2 championships.  The new engine will be a 4 liter V8, with approximately 600 hp, about 50 hp more than now in LMP2.  After the announcement of the 4 manufacturers in July (Onroak Automotive, Oreca, Rileytech/Multimatic and Dallara), the renewed championship for 2017 seems to be right on schedule.


It will be hot in Texas this weekend.  The forecast for Saturday afternoon goes up to 38° Celsius.  Free practice sets off (local times) on Thursday at 2.45 pm and 8 pm, final practice Friday morning at 10.30 am with qualifying Friday afternoon at 5.45 pm.   The green flag for the 6 hours of the Americas will be given on Saturday afternoon 5 pm.

Check out the Club Arnage blog, facebook group and forum for regular updates and pictures during the weekend !


Useful links :

Timetable
Entry list
Spotters guide by Andy Blackmore
TV Schedule


Kristof Vermeulen.








Sunday, 6 September 2015

Anti climax for JOTA Sport at Le Castellet.

Nothing but smiling faces at JOTA Sport after what seemed to be a perfect weekend for the British team. Pole position, first place after 4 hours and an 18 point lead in the championship before the final race at Estoril next month.  

Untill a decision of the stewards was posted concerning the driving time of Felipe Albuquerque. He exceeded his maximum time with 1 minute 57 seconds (say 1 lap !), resulting in a 45 second penalty for the JOTA team leaving them with third place and only 1 point bonus in the championship ahead of Greaves Motorsport.  The final race at Estoril next month now surely announces itself as a cracker with JOTA, Greaves and Thiriet all having the championship in their reach and the fast AF Racing BR01's looking out for their first win with the new and blimingly fast chassis.

This morning, Harry Tincknell scored the third consecutive pole for the "mighty 38" this season, holding off both AF Racing's BR01-Nissan.  At the start, Mikhail Alashin charged through to first place with Leo Roussel in the Pegasus Morgan behind him and Nicolas Minassian in the second BR01-Nissan in third position, leaving Simon Dolan (who took the start of a race for the first time in years) behind in 4th.  Minassian quickly took over second place after which both BR01-Nissan's steamed away from the competition and built up a comfortable lead in the opening stages of the race.  

70 minutes into the race, the first safety car was deployed after the #2 Team LNT Ginetta spun off track.  Meanwhile the #46 Thiriet Oreca fell back after a visit to the stands with brake problems.  Dolan had a spin in the #38, giving both BR01's the chance to build up their lead again.  With 2 hours to go, the safety car came out for a second time as the #48 Murphy Prototypes went hard into the barriers at the end of the Mistral straight. Michael Lyons got out safely but the race for Murphy's men was over.  

After the second safety car, the race exploded with battles going on all over the place.  Tristan Gommendy flew through the field and took top position in the Thiriet Oreca05.  Behind him Felipe Albuquerque, who took over from Simon Dolan, passed Gary Hirsch in the Greaves Motorsport Gibson to second place and started to close the gap to Gommendy.  About an hour before the end of the race, Thiriet took over from Gommendy, handing Albuquerque the lead ahead of the #21 BR01 with Victor Shaytar behind the wheel.  What followed was a nailbiting battle for third between the Oreca and BR01 with John Lancaster in the Greaves Gibson joining in.  

Lancaster was flying and went on to second place, closing in to JOTA ahead of the final pitstops.  Tincknell took over in the #38 and headed out with fresh rubber for the remaining 45 minutes.  Lancaster pitted soon after the leading car but was held up when the SVK LMP3 came in at the same time, taking his chances for the win away.  Behind him, Kyril Ladygin steered the #21 AF Racing to third place, again showing the big potential of his new car.  Further down the field, the #20 AF Racing came in fourth, ahead of the Krohn Ligier and the misfortuned Thiriet Oreca. 



Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson took the win in the LMP3 class, and with that the first ever LMP3 championship. As to this morning they didn't have a clue to get a shot at the championship if they won the race, but kept their head cool and brought the #3 Team LNT Ginetta-Nissan safely to the chequered flag. Gaëtan Paletou took an early lead in the #2 Team LNT car, but after a spin and contact with the barriers almost halfway the race, Robertson and Hoy had the championship in their hands. Ultimately they won the race with nearly a lap advantage to the second placed Villorba Corse Ginetta driven by Roberto Lacorte & Giorgio Sernagiotto.

Formula Racing took their second win of the season in LMGTE with the #60 Ferrari F458 Italia.   After strong stints of all three drivers, Johnny Laursen, Mikkel Mac and Andrea Rizzoli they won the race with a lap advantage to second placed BMW Z4 GTE from Marc VDS who finally got away from their collection of fourth places this season. The battle for third went to the wire, with JMW Motorsport taking a hard fought and well deserved podium in their yellow #66 Ferrari ahead of the #88 Proton Porsche.



In GTC the #63 Ferrari took the best start and the lead in the first part of the race, ahead of the #59 Thiriet BMW and the #62 Ferrari.  After the final stops, the BMW was lying first with enough margin to hold of the charging #62 AF Corse Ferrari.  The all Danish Aston Martin Vantage took third place and scored their second consecutive podium after Austria in July.  

The final race of the ELMS season will take place in Estoril on 18 October.  With the LMP2 and both GT titles still undecided, tension will be high and we should be in for an exciting weekend !