Barthez tops Bronze Test
Prior to the first practice session of the weekend, the majority of the teams headed out for the 30-minute Bronze Test.
Fastest of the drivers was Fabien Barthez in the Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier JS P217, the Frenchman setting a 1:22.975. The top three in LMP2 was completed by the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara of Roberto Lacorte and the #21 10Star DragonSpeed ORECA 07 Gibson of Henrik Hedman 0.104 and 0.770 back respectively.
The #7 Duqueine Engineering Norma paced LMP3 (1:28.290), and the #77 Proton Competition Porsche of Christian Ried led the way in GTE (1:38.913).
Thiim wins 4 Minutes of Red Bull Ring
Aston Martin Racing factory driver and reigning WEC GTE Driver’s Champion Nicki Thiim won the first race of the ELMS meeting at the Red Bull Ring this weekend, in the circuit’s welcome centre.
Up against a world-class field on the circuit’s slot-car track, which included Filipe Albuquerque and Martin Hippe among others, the Dane steered his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Hybrid to victory in the four-minute encounter, beating an Audi RS5 DTM, Corvette C7.R and Nürburgring 24 Hours-winning Audi R8 LMS.
He had to overcome adversity in the race, which featured Pro-Am lineups made up of local journalists, with a mid-race driver change. Early in the running, his Porsche lost its rear-wing after a collision on the entry to Turn 1.
“This is an incredible feeling,” Nicki Thiim, who drives with TF Sport in the ELMS, said after the race. “Me and my teammate have worked so hard on the set up of the car, it’s really a dream to win this one.”
There was some doubt about the result though, with post-race technical checks believed to be on-going.
“I’m lodging a formal protest,” Albuquerque, whose RS5 DTM finished fourth in the race, said. “The car finished without a rear wing, which is a homologated part. It’s therefore under-weight.”
Webber and Dempsey on site
DSC understands that Porsche ambassadors Mark Webber and Patrick Dempsey were on-site at the circuit yesterday for a Red Bull presentation after the Ennstall-Classic historic rally. Dempsey drove a Porsche 356 Speedster, and Webber piloted a Porsche 550 Spyder (below) in the three-day event.
Both former WEC drivers took part in the rally which featured the likes of Derek Bell, Jarno Trulli and Walter Rohrl as part of the 220-car entry.
Reigning WEC champion Neel Jani along with Porsche’s Fritz Enzinger were also in action, driving a Porsche 356 A Speedster.
Martin Hippe excited in return to Red Bull Ring
Inter Europol LMP3 driver Martin Hippe is racing on the Red Bull Ring this weekend for the first time since 2003. It’s a circuit which he says, is one of his favourites.
“The last time I raced here I was in Formula BMW, back when there were 30 plus cars in the series,” the German, who is the reigning VdeV LMP3 champion told DSC. “It was called the A1 Ring back then, and was completely different. It’s an incredible place now, to think they hold Grand Prix here? It’s such an incredible facility, the new welcome centre, the paint on the track, the paddock, it’s amazing.
Back in 2003, the ADAC Formula BMW grid was stacked with talent. On the grid alongside Hippe that year, were Adrian Sutil, Jan Charouz, Sebastien Vettel, Maximillian Gotz, Rene Rast, Christian Engelhardt and Davide Rigon to name a few.
“I love driving on the circuit, it’s really challenging,” he continued. “Despite it being so narrow, and with the LMP2 cars having more power, the only traffic that’s an issue, is the GTE cars round here.
“It’s going to be a tough weekend. I mean, there’s no easy circuits on the ELMS calendar, but this one is short and the level is so high in the ELMS, that you really have to be on the limit to set a competitive time.”
He’ll partner Polish driver Jakob Smiechowski in the #13 Ligier JS P3 this weekend.
Ennstal Classic photo courtesy of Ennstal Classic