The fifth round of the VdeV Series started off on an odd note with Ginetta not racing any of its G57 prototypes in Jarama. “Over the past year, we have asked Ginetta to do whatever is required to comply [with the balance of performance regulations],” said VdeV series manager Eric Van De Vyver. “We had to take action in order to be fair to other contenders. Trust me, it is not a pleasant thing to let go of five cars.” The Belgian also indicated that he thought there was a good chance that the British manufacturer would return in Magny-Cours.
The Qualifying session set the tone of the weekend. It was a close competition between the Norma M30s entered by DB Autosport and Duqueine Engineering on the one hand and the Ligier JSP3s of Inter Europol Competition on the other hand. The #20 DB Autosport Norma M30 driven by Jean-Ludovic Foubert, Jacques Wolff and Nicolas Maulini took pole position (1.27:221), while Duqueine Engineering’s M30s snatched second and third in class. The first Ligier LMP3 was the #22 Inter Europol Competition shared by Jakub Smiechowski and Hendrik Still. It was fourth fastest, almost a second a lap behind the leading Norma.
The race started off with a collision between the #8 and the #9 Duqueine Engineering Normas at turn 1. Lucas Legeret in the #9 was pushed off track and had to pit for repair. The #95 Racing For Poland Ligier JSP3 was also affected by this accident and had to retire because the car’s cooling system was too damaged. Race officials blamed the driver in the #8 Duqueine Engineering Norma for the accident and gave him a drive-through penalty.
This early race event allowed the #20 DB Autosport Norma M30 to build a lead over the surprising #16 DEMJ Renault RS01 driven by Patrick Sarrailh and Massimiliano Mugelli, the two Inter Europol Ligier JSP3s (the #22 and the #33) and the #39 Graff Racing Ligier JSP3 shared by Eric Trouillet, Franck Gauvin and Remy Dugoffroy.
The #22 Inter Europe Ligier undertook most of its eight compulsory drive-throughs early on in the competition. Despite this strategy and abnormal left-front-tire wear, the car took the lead a little before mid-race and essentially kept it until the end. “I followed the Norma but it was just too quick,” said Still after the race. “All weekend the Normas were about one second faster than the Ligier. I decided to find my own rhythm and race my own race. That worked. The car has a great fuel consumption and the team managed the drive-throughs really well. I think we had the strongest driver line-up in both cars this weekend, so we had a good chance to win the race. And we did.”
The #20 DB Autosport Norma looked set to take a well-deserved second place, but the car lost considerable speed in the last half-hour of the race. It was overtaken first by the #33 Inter Europol Competition driven by GP2 driver Johann Ledermair and then by Eric Trouillet in the #39 Graff Ligier. Despite his fourth podium finish in five races this season, Trouillet was disappointed. “I thought I could play it safe in the final laps,” he said, “but the #33 came back like a bullet. Lesson learned: never take things for granted and keep pushing until the checkered flag”.
In the GTV1 category, the #1 Visiom Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Jean-Bernard Bouvet, Jean-Paul Pagny and Thierry Perrier were once more dominant. They temporarily lost the lead forty-five minutes before the end of the race after suffering a puncture to the right rear tire. “Luckily enough, I was able to come into the pits and put on an old set of tires,” said Bouvet “We had built a solid enough gap to regain first position towards the end of the race”. The #44 Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Eric Mouez, David Loger and Jeremy Reymond finished second while the #11 AB Sport Auto Renault RS01 shared by Eric Van de Vyver and Franck Thybaud took the final podium position in the category.
Next up for the VdeV-Series racers is a round in Magny-Cours on October 6-8, 2017.