Graff Racing won for the first time in the VdeV Series this season after a difficult race that unfolded in partially-wet track. The French team finished one lap ahead of Duqueine Engineering’s two Norma M30s. This victory consolidates Graff’s leading position in the LMP3 VdeV Series Championship. In the GT Category, Visiom and their Ferrari F488 GT3 won ahead of the #44 CMR Ferrari F458 GT3 after a race that proved indecisive until the very end. Visiom is now in the best possible position to earn a third consecutive title next month at Estoril.
The VdeV Series was back in France at Magny-Cours for the penultimate round of the season. The 16-car grid looked bare due to the absence of teams competing with Ginetta G57s. There are actually serious doubts as to whether fans would see the British cars back in the VdeV series before the end of the season. Nicolas Maulini set pole position (1:33.423), just less than a tenth faster than the #7 Wintec Ligier JSP3 driven by Yann Clairray and Nelson Panciatici in the #9 Duqueine Engineering Norma M30.
The race started on a very wet track. As soon as the cars reached Turn 1, the #7 Wintec Ligier JSP3 driven Cyrille Denis spun out after making contact with the #9 Duqueine Engineering Norma M30 driven by Lucas Legeret. The #4 Cool Racing By GPC Ligier JSP3 driven by Alexandre Coigny also went off track during the first lap.
These two race events triggered a safety-car episode lasting seven minutes. Meanwhile, pole-sitter Nicolas Maulini kept the lead ahead of the #22 Inter Europol Competition driven by Hendrik Still. The #22 rapidly started taking its 10 balance of performance drive-through penalties and lost its position to the surprising #99 Solution F TC17 GT V8 driven by Steve Zacchia and Massimiliano Mugelli in the #16 DEMJ Renault RS01. As Zacchia came in for refueling at the top of the first hour, the #20 DB Autosport Norma M30 led with a gap of 21 seconds ahead of the #16 DEMJ Renault RS01.
The track dried out during the second hour of the race. The #93 N’Race Ligier JSP3 shared by Pierre Fontaine, Christophe Decultot and Jordan Perroy and the #99 then took the lead temporarily as the #20 and the #16 refueled and changed drivers.
Meanwhile, the #7 Wintec Ligier JSP3 driven by Cyril Denis and Edouard Hery postponed their five balance of performance drive-through penalties to a much later stage in the race. This strategy allowed them to take the lead towards the end of the second hour, ahead of the #93 and the #39 Graff Racing Ligier JSP3 shared by Eric Trouillet, Franck Gauvin and Remy Degyffroy.
During the third hour of the race, all of the teams opted for slick tires. The #7 and the #93 swapped positions at the head of the race, but both eventually had to take their balance of performance drive-through penalties, unlike the #39. Just as the race entered its final hour, the #39 took the lead, and the #9 Duqueine Engineering Norma M30 driven by Nelson Panciatici took second position.
30 minutes before the end of the race, the #96 Charriol driven by Jonathan Cochet had a significant accident at the exit of the Adelaide chicane. Cochet was unhurt. This triggered a second safety-car episode that lasted a little less than 15 minutes. At the restart, the #39 and the #9 kept their position and cruised to the chequered flag, while the #93 in third position became an easy target for the #8 Duqueine Engineering Norma M30 driven by Anthony Borga. Borga eventually managed to take final podium position in the final lap of the race.
In the GT category, the pole-sitting #46 AB Sport Auto Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Harry Teneketzian made a cautious start and lost the lead to Jeremy Reymond in the #44 Ferrari F458 GT3 in the first lap. 22 minutes into the race, the #46 lost one more position to Thierry Perrier in the #1 Visiom Ferrari F488 GT3 after going off track. The #1 and the #44 then ended up neck and neck.
The #1 took the lead towards mid-race but was relentlessly pursued by the #44, especially at the restart of the second safety car episode. In the end, Jean-Paul Pagny, Thierry Perrier and Jean-Bernard Bouvet in the #1 won ahead of the #44 CMR Ferrari F458 GT3 shared by Eric Mouez and David Loger.
The #11 AB Sport Auto Renault RS01 driven by Eric Van De Vyver, Franck Thybaud and Sebastien Chardonnet took the final podium position in this category.
Next up for the VdeV Series contenders is the final race of the season with the 6 Hours of Estoril on November 3, 4 and 5, 2017.