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A Dominant Race in Austria For DKR Engineering Norma

Ebimotors wins a thrilling battle in the GT3 category

All cars took a clean start with pole sitter Alvaro Fontes keeping the lead ahead of the #3 DKR Engineering Norma M30 driven by Jean Glorieux.

On the second lap, Glorieux overtook Fontes and then managed to pull away. “The car felt the same from the first to the last lap of my stint” said Glorieux after the race. “It makes it easy to push when you need it” he added. Moments later, Fontes in the #44 SPV Motorsport Ligier lost another position to Anthony Wells in the #79 Nielsen Racing Ligier JSP3.

Fifteen minutes into the race, Alain Costa in the #99 N’Race Ligier JSP3 went off at turn 4 and got stuck in the gravel trap. This triggered a short full course yellow episode. On restart, the #79 lost its second position to the #14 RLR M Sport Ligier JSP3 driven by Alex Kapadia after a stellar run through the field coming all the way back from 18th position. The Brit went on to chase the #3 by clocking fast laps. He managed to lower the gap with the leading Norma to less than 3 seconds.

A little more than an hour into the race, the lead cars pitted. Unfortunately, the #14 did not observe its minimum pit stop time and took a 3s stop and go penalty as a result. This allowed the #79 driven by Colin Noble to take second position ahead of the #65 Graff Ligier JSP3 driven by Emilien Carde.

Ross Warburton had taken over the #14 and, far from being rattled by the penalty, went on to deliver a controlled run for the remainder of the race, solid lap times and consistency showing that his efforts to pre[are for the season are bearing fruit, he’d slip back against the Pros around him but coming home an impressive 6th with the SPV Ligier ahead but that entry having a question mark over its result after receiving the ‘meatball’ technical warning flag for a non-functioning rear light caused by earlier contact with the #8 SVC Lamborghini.

Alexander Toril in the #3 went on to manage a solid gap with the #79 despite Noble setting several fast laps underneath 1’27seconds. “I never felt under pressure during my stint” said Toril after the race. The Spaniard won with a 12 seconds gap over the #79 and 53 seconds ahead of the the #65. It is the second consecutive victory of the season for DKR Engineering after their win in the Road To Le Mans last June.

In the GT3 category, the pole sitting car #46 Ebimotors Lamborghini driven by Emanuele Busnelli took a clean start and kept the lead on the first lap. He was rapidly chased by the #75 Optimum Racing Audi R8 LMS driven by Flick Haigh, the #95 driven by Christoph Ulrich and Tom Onslow-Cole at the wheel of the #5 RAM Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 .

The #5 managed to overtake the #75 and the #95 easily. Onslow-Cole then went on to chase the #46 and jump ahead of Busnelli at the restart of the FCY triggered by the #99 spin. “I was losing my front tires and I could not keep up with him” said Busnelli after the end of the race. Onslow Cole pulled away, secured its position and made sure his team mate could keep the lead after the mid-race driver change. Unfortunately, Remon Vos in the #5 had a contact with the #33 Ibran Pardo Javier Ligier JSP3 at Turn 1. The #5 retired as a consequence of a puncture and rear bodywork damage. Post race it was the AMG man that was adjudged the guilty party by Race Stewards.

Joe Osbourne aboard the #75 Optimum Audi had taken over from Flick Haigh who drove well in the first half of the race to keep in the hunt, the Audi though would be one of a number of cars to fall foul of track limits violations, the stop-go putting Osbourne back out just behind new second place man Maurizio Mediani, a brief tussle seeing the Ferrari man come out on top with the #95 Spirit of Race 458 GT3 extending the advantage.

Babini in the #46 returned to the lead with a 15 second gap over the #75 and the #95 Spirit Of Race Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 driven by Maurizio Mediani. Mediani eventually managed to clinch second place in the final 15 minutes of the race but was never in a position to challenge Babini for the lead. The #75 took the final podium position in the category, some 25 seconds behind the winning car.

The #46 Ebimotors Lamborghini Huracan GT3 is now leading the Championship in its category.

Next up for the Michelin Le Mans Cup runners is the Paul Ricard round held next August in France.