Jesse Krohn took the VDS BMW to third in GTE as a more significant switch occurred in LMP2 – the #46 Thiriet by TDS Oreca finally caught and passed the Jota Sport Gibson for second; into the left hander at Brooklands, and a clean manoeuvre.
Tristan Gommendy was now pushing hard and reeling in the leader at a rapid rate, gaining ground down the Hangar Straight and right up behind Wirdheim into Vale. At his third attempt this move came off, the lead battle in LMP2 getting caught up in the leading scrap in GTE.
Wirdheim pitted with 45 minutes to go, just as the Jota car had been allowed to close up in the traffic. With Simon Dolan handing the car over to Tincknell a lap later, the run to the finish was going to be a thriller as the Jota car set fastest lap of the race, 1:50.406, visibly closing in for second though nearly losing everything into Becketts as he was chopped by a slower GT car. Third place in this class was now 46 seconds clear of Mediani’s #32 AF Corse Oreca in fourth, the chase visibly on.
Light contact happened between Tincknell and Lancaster as they tackled an LMP3 car into Becketts, the #38 getting a wheel on the grass more than once.
Gommendy exited the pits with a 14 second advantage with 30 minutes to go, taking fuel and tyres but staying aboard. The #44 Ibanez Racing car outbraked itself into Turn 3 coming up to a GTE car: localised yellows but no Safety Car. The pace of Tincknell and Lancaster was fierce and reeling in the leader, whose pace had slowed a little, possibly not getting the best of its new tyres.
Chris Hoy’s sterling run with the lead LNT LMP3 concluded with a clean handover to Charlie Robertson, their lead resuming at over a minute to second place.
Meanwhile in GTE the VDS BMW caught Stop / Go a penalty for undertaking under the safety car which ended their chance of a podium.
The #32 AF Corse Oreca found the gravel in Turn 7 after what looked like a steering failure but localised yellows again kept the flow of the race together.
The battle for second in LMP2 took a turn but was far from resolved, Lancaster getting blocked by the VDS BMW at The Loop in its own squabble with another GT car, Tincknell making a smart move around the outside of all four cars. Lancaster however was not happy, flashing his lights at Tincknell and right up behind the red and white prototype. As the two cars came hard into Becketts the Jota car lost it on the inside kerb, rotating the Gibson 015S and losing a legality panel. All this action had closed Lancaster up to a second from the leader with less than 10 minutes to run.
At the exit of The Loop it all came to blows, the TDS car being tagged by the Gibson in the left hander going onto the Wellington Straight. This span the TDS Oreca around, pitching on to the inside, Lancaster taking to the outside run off but regaining the track in the lead. The move caught the attention of the stewards and would certainly be a topic of investigation that might quite feasibly have affected the official classification.
This enabled the #38 Jota car to close right up on Lancaster again, this time for the lead. This was an epic LMP2 battle, so nearly spoiled as the #41 narrowly avoided the GTC Lamborghini going into Copse on the penultimate lap, but it was Jon Lancaster that took the win for Greaves Motorsport.
LMP3 can celebrate a success. Considering the minimal running, four cars took the finish. Sir Chris Hoy drove a solid, unflustered stint to underpin Charlie Robertson’s sterling work to qualify the car and bring it home first.
Adam Carroll took the #86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche across line to win GTE, from Sam Tordoff’s JMW Ferrari in a strong run to second that could have been a place higher were it not for a little more luck. Matt Griffin made it third for the #55 AF Corse Ferrari.
The order in GTC remained unchanged to the flag, the positions well pegged between the winning #59 TDS BMW of Perera / Lunardi / Dermont, two laps clear of the #64 AF Corse Ferrari of Berreiros / Radsmussen and Guedes. Archie Hamilton finsished a solid job with the Lamborghini Gallardo for more silverware for the Gulf Racing UK outfit today.
A thoroughly enthralling race that could go down as a classic, and a thrilling start to the 2015 ELMS season.