Alex Toril and jean Glorieux scored their third Le Mans Cup win of the 2017 season in the DKR Engineering Norma M30 in the series’ French round at Paul Ricard. After great drives from both drivers, Glorieux in particular fending off stiff competition in the first half of the race, their championship lead has extended to 14 points heading into the round at Spa.
“Delighted is the right word. Very happy too be on the top step of the podium. The team did a perfect job and Alex was perfect!” Said Glorieux.
“The win was perfect to keep the rhythm going,” added Toril, “we have another seven points added to our advantage.”
Glorieux took the start, and lost the lead into Turn 1 off Adrien Chila in the #65 GRAFF Ligier. But shortly after a brief safety car period for an incident between multiple cars further back into the first corner, Glorieux took the lead back at the Mistral Chicane as Chila ran wide and locked up.
From there, Glorieux was able to hold the lead until the end of the first hour, building a relatively comfortable lead for a time, though he did have to defend hard just before handing over, from a hard-charging Alex Kapadia in the RLR Sport Ligier. Kapadia couldn’t get past though and Toril took over, cruising to the finish with a lead of over nine seconds by the end of the race.
Finishing second was the #79 Nielsen Racing Ligier of Anthony Wells and Colin Noble, after Noble stepped in the car after the round of stops and climbed from fourth to second. He couldn’t catch Toril, despite getting the gap down to under 10 seconds from over 15.
Taking the final podium spot was the #65 GRAFF Ligier JS P3 of Emilien Carde and Chila. Carde, in the car to the flag, was being hunted down by former Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou, but a spin from the Frenchman in the final minutes sealed the deal and ensured that the duo took home silverware.
Behind Paletou’s N’Race Ligier was the #55 Spirit of Race machine, which took fifth place in the final few laps after a lengthy battle between Michele Rugolo and Andrew Bentley, who in the #23 United Autosports Ligier had to settle for sixth.
Further back, and in 10th spot by the end of the race was the RLR Sport Ligier, Ross Warburton unable to keep up with the pace at the front of the field when he climbed aboard in second place. The RLR crew will go home disappointed, after Kapadia drove from the back of the pack to second place in the first hour, after the safety car peeled in, slaloming through field, eventually putting the pressure on the DKR crew.
The aforementioned safety car was caused by a collision between the Ram Racing Mercedes of Remon Vos, the Dutchman careering across the circuit as the pack slowed into Turn 1 at the start, crashing into the side of the Motorsport 98 Ligier. Neither car finished, and retired on the spot.
In GT3, Ebimotors took the win and extended its championship lead to 16 points. Emanuele Busnelli and Fabio Babini ended up taking the lead in the second half of the race after the SVC Sport Management Lamborghini faded with Cedric Mezard at the wheel.
“Very important to us, the BoP was not perfect, but I pushed hard after Emanuelle’s stint,” Babini said. “It wasn’t easy to stay in front of the Mercedes.”
The SVC Lambo led the way at the start with Steeve Hiesse driving, though a penalty for causing a collision with the Optimum Motorsport Audi of Flick Haigh – which recovered to third after an unscheduled trip to the pits after the hit – caused the Frenchman to briefly slip to second. He retook the lead before the halfway mark, but the win wasn’t to be this time.
Instead, Babini steered the championship leaders to the win, ahead of the Lee Mowle Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 that had a solid, if a little quiet, outing, after stints from Mowle and teammate Phil Keen. The SVC Lamborghini ended up finishing off the podium, and last of the classified GT3 entrants, in fourth.
Next up for the Michelin Le Mans Cup, is the round at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on the 23rd of September.