The second round of the VdeV Endurance Series took place in Portimao on Saturday. The qualifying session led fans to believe that Ginettas would be dominant in the race: Mike Simpson, Simon Murray and Tom Hibbert took Pole in the #57 Pegasus Racing Ginetta G57 P2 (1:49.811) ahead of another Ginetta, #52 Simpson Motorsport driven by Jordan Sanders and Sennan Fielding. The first Ligier, #9 Duqueine Engineering driven by David Droux, Gilles Duqueine and Nelson Panciatici was third on the grid, some 2.4 seconds off the pole car. The race though provided a very different story.
The front row Ginettas took a clean start. Sanders in #52 took the lead, followed by Murray in #57 and Hendrik Still in the #22 InterEuropol Ligier.
Less then ten minutes into the race, Still attacked Murray. The two cars touched and #57 span around. #22 stayed on track but had to pit moments later. This left three Ginettas in the leading positions but again #57 had trouble by having contact with the #29 Pegasus Racing Ginetta driven by David Caussanel. #29 lost several positions and considerable time in this race incident. This was not the end of troubles for Murray: forty minutes into the race, the Brit spun and the #5 By Speed Factory Ligier of Miguel Abello Gamazo and Mirko Van Oostrum was not able to avoid the Ginetta, the Ligier running over the top of the G57 with subsequent damage to both cars (see onboard camera footage provided by Speed Factory Racing).
The Ginetta returned to the pits with substantial damage to both the front and rear bodywork. All these incidents allowed #22 Ligier to return to the top of the race and to challenge #52 Ginetta on pace.
Of note is that both cars involved in the airborne incident would later return to the track – Pegasus and Ginetta crews work together above to get #57 back on track)!
Two hours and forty minutes into the race, Thierry Cornac in #76 IMSA Performance Porsche went off-track and took a massive hit against the guard rails punching a substantial hole through the armco. The Porsche caught fire but mercifully Cornac able to exit the car under his own steam.
This triggered a yellow flag episode lasting over an hour. On the restart, the #52 driven by Sanders pulled away from the #22 Ligier. Unfortunately though the #52 lost its left front wheel and retired on track moments later.
Four hours into the race, #22 led with a comfortable margin of two laps over three cars including its sister #33 Ligier of Paul Schechner, Xavier Michel, Alexandre Muller, #20 DB Autorsport Norma of Jean-Ludovic Foubert, Jacques Wolff, Nicolas Maulini and #39 Graff Racing Ligier of Eric Trouillet, Franck Gauvin and Remy Deguffroy.
Competition was fierce for second and third position but in the end, #33 finished ahead of #39. In the mean time the #22 Ligier cruised to the checkered flag.
”We won! What a great race eventhough after the first hour I got some problems with the front tyres” said Kuba Smiechowski. ”Not sure what it was but they caused bad vibrations which made it hard to drive. Then it got dark and I couldn’t see much, also because of a very dirty windshield. The last couple of laps I slowed down a bit, which was possible because of the gap. I just wanted to bring the car home in one piece. Which I did. Happy team, job well done”
The PFV category was eventually won by the unfortunate Ginetta #57 of Simpson/Murray/Hibbert, some ten laps behind the overall winning car.
Meanwhile in GTV1, the first half of the race was led by pole car #76 IMSA Performance Porsche of Thierry Cornac and Nicolas Armindo and #1 Visiom Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 of Jean-Paul Pagny, Jean-Bernard Bouvet and Thierry Perrier. After Cornac’s shunt, #1 seemed assured to take first place but at the top of the fifth hour, the car had to come into the pits with transmission issues. This left victory to #46 AB Sport Auto Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Harry Teneketzian and Joffrey De Narda.
In GTV2, victory went to #56 RMS Porsche 991 Cup driven by Yannick Mallegol, Franck Mechaly and Jeffrey Blank Howard.
The next VdeV series race will be held in Paul Ricard (France) on May 26-27-28 2017.