G-Drive Racing took a commanding win in the 2018 4 Hours of Silverstone, Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and At the green light, the pole sitting car – the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JSP217 started by Julien Canal – kept the lead ahead of Roman Rusinov in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07. Further down the grid, it was a chaotic start for several cars (including the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse and the #29 Duqueine Engineering) which were left with no other option but to go off-track into Village.
Canal was quickly able to build a lead of 10 to 15 seconds before his Michelin rubber started to lose grip , the team having opted to double stint the tyres from the start. This allowed Rusinov and James Allen in the #40 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 to catch up with the Ligier. The Russian overtook Canal on lap 32.
On lap 35, Phil Hanson in the #22 United Autosport retired at Village after his cockpit fire extinguisher fired after being struck by a foreign object, activating the master kill switch, the car unable to rejoin. accidentally. Moments later, the #35 SMP Racing coincidently went off in exactly the same spot, the team suggesting a braking issue but TV pictures suggesting that a throttle problem might have been the cause. This triggered a Full Course Yellow episode during which most LMP2 cars pitted for a third time and drivers were changed.
This sequence was over at the end of the second hour. Andrea Pizzitola by now in the #26 led the race comfortably ahead of Timothy Buret in the #23 and Henrique Chaves in the #30 AVF By Adrian Valles Dallara P217. In the meantime, Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca 07 was able to close down on Chaves. He overtook him on Lap 56.
On lap 78, the #23 received a drive-through penalty for not respecting the full course yellow procedure and lost several positions.
At the top of fourth hour, Vergne, by now in the #26 led by a minute over Henrik Hedman in the #21, and nearly a minute and a half over three drivers: Konstantin Tereschenko in the #30, Norman Nato in the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca 07 and Paul Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07.
Hedman was unable to keep the pace of the leaders and lost several positions in a very short number of laps. The #30 had a broken rear wing on lap 108, pitted for repairs and finished well down the order. Nato surprisingly went off track at Club, apparently with a right front brake failure, on lap 110 and retired.
Vergne increased the lead of the #26 to a full lap over the car in second position, the #28 now in the hands of Paul Lafargue. Vergne cruised to the chequered flag and took victory while Lapierre in the #21 caught and passed the #28 IDEC Oreca in the final moments of the race as the French car stopped late on for a splash of fuel.
Just off the podium were the #39 Graff Oreca 07 shared by Alexandre Cougnaud, Jonathan Hirschi and Tristan Gommendy and the #31 APR Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 driven by Ryan Cullen, Harrison Newey and Gustavo Menezes, the APR car having suffered multiple contact during the race including being struck from the rear by the #21 and with Menezes running into the rear of Will Steven’s Panis Barthez Ligier.
LMP3, United Autosport’s first 2018 win.
In a well disciplined performance United Autosports took the race to the LMP3 ELMS field at the 4 Hours of Silverstone. Matt Bell’s stints in the #3 Ligier JSP3 set the pace, team mates Garret Grist and Anthony Wells delivering solid drives while the race behind rarely looked settled.
A strong opening stint by Mattia Drudi led the #12 EuroInternational Ligier away from pole in, as Sean Rayhall’s United Autosports car and Ross Kaiser’s front row sitting 360 Racing JSP3, both had incidents in the opening turns, both recovering at the back of the field. This put Garret Grist in second place in the sister #3 United Autosports car from fourth place on the grid.
Rayhall’s push back was stellar, the car rising up to P8 by lap 15, P5 ten laps later and pushing on. While Job van Uitert hustled the RLR MSport car into third, though the team would battle with a broken exhaust hobbling their ultimate pace for the whole race. Drudi defended his lead well from the #3 United Autosports car, Grist’s gap shortening to less than half a second in traffic.
First stops done and under a Full Course Yellow, the order was maintained; the only driver change being Matt Bell, taking over the second placed United Autosports Ligier.
At the green flag Bell was all over the leader. Drudi took the pressure for a couple of laps until Bell made an assured move around the outside in traffic at Luffield, easing out a lead of over ten seconds that was rarely under threat for the rest of the race. Drudi soon came under pressure from Job Van Uitert’s third placed RLR MSport Ligier, who in turn had Sean Rayhall, in recovery mode, all over him. Rayhall wasted no time in passing Dutchman to assume the charge for second.
Two stops completed and the order shuffled. Anthony Wells now led for United Autosports, but the team now had a 1-2; John Falb second in the #2 entry. Alex Kapadia improved two places, rejoining third in the #7 Ecurie Ecosse car. Indeed, Ligiers were dominating this race: John Farano had faded, the cracked exhaust beginning to tell for RLR MSport, but had worked back to fourth at the end of the third hour.
The #12 EuroInternational JSP3 had dropped back significantly in the hands of Bronze driver Andrea Dromedari, promoting the #6 360 Racing machine up the order. Fifth place for Ultimate Racing was currently the best placed Norma, but things were far from settled.
The final pit stop for #2 United Autosports car conspired to maintain its unlucky fortunes. The second place machine refused to fire up at its handover to John Falb and, although it eventually started, crucial places were lost – two minutes; eighth place; out of contention. This put Colin Noble second for Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen with 45 minutes to go, lining up a solid run to the finish. Matt Bell’s lead after the last stops looked very sturdy though.
James Swift lost the third placed 360 Racing Ligier into Luffield, getting a sizeable tap from the RLR car under braking into Vale. Rob Garofall received a stop/go penalty for this, which shifted the top five order yet again. The #17 Ultimate Racing Norma was now third, Matthieu Lahaye pegging the gap to James Swift who recovered the 360 Racing Ligier to fourth place.
But it was United Autosports’ victory, Anthony Wells taking the flag for the #3 Ligier JSP3, just 9 seconds clear from a charging Colin Noble, a first for the crew and the team’s first since the Algarve last year:
“I’m ecstatic to win this race!” declared Wells afterwards, “My team did a faultless job, pit stops perfectly executed. And I never go well at Silverstone, so how good is that..?!”
GTE, JMW overcomes penalty to take victory
The JMW Motorsport team delivered excitement and a well executed win from a race that could have potentially been decided by the stewards. The seven car entry providing typically frantic GTE competition, Silverstone’s 4-hour race went right to the wire.
Gianluca Roda got the jump on pole sitter Christian Ried to reverse the order of the Proton Competition Porsches’ front row, as behind the Ferraris of Liam Griffin and Duncan Cameron traded paint into The Loop, Griffin’s #66 JMW car having to defend hard before the #55 Spirit of Race F488 took third. Cameron was soon in the wars again at the Luffield complex as the lapping DragonSpeed LMP2 car made further contact, but without consequence.
Cameron pushed hard in the Spirit of Race car, an aggressive move on Ried for second pushing the Porsche onto the dirt at Aintree, life in LMGTE typically tough at the front. The Ferrari would only get a flag warning at this point however.
After the first pit stops Ried’s #88 Porsche was back ahead. Aaron Scott was now second aboard the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Interestingly, the team had elected to roll the dice and take a second fuel splash early under the FCY to limit the time Duncan Cameron spent in the car, the strategy to put Matt Griffin in to the end of the race. Griffin had stated though that only a further FCY would ensure
the difference between the strategy coming off or not… Alex McDowell’s JMW Ferrari sat third as the gaps stretched and settled. At this point things were fairly routine.
The second stops saw a change of lead, the #88 Porsche having spent longer time in its pit.
Giuanluca Roda resumed fourth, nearly 40 seconds adrift of the leading three. This handed the Spirit of Race Ferrari the lead, Alex MacDowell’s JMW car all over its tail until the #66 pitted. Aaron Scott handed the #55 car back to Duncan Cameron, who exited the pit lane just behind the JMW Ferrari.
Cameron wasn’t having that though, and took back Spirit of Race’s lead a lap later. The Proton Porsches now ran third and fourth: Roda’s #88 car was ahead of Christian Ried in the #77 Proton entry and pushing on to get in touch with the JMW Ferrari, the leading three tied together. Roda took on the drag race down the Hangar Straight and clung on to execute an impressive move around the outside of Liam Griffin at Stowe, immediately closing on Cameron’s lead.
With things now starting to ignite, Liam Griffin took the JMW Ferrari back past the #88 Porsche before taking to the pits, Miguel Molina keeping second place ahead of Matteo Cairolli. Race Control, however, had issues with the JMW car, handing out a 10 second penalty for constantly abusing track limits. Meanwhile, Matt Griffin had climbed aboard the Spirit of Race Ferrari.
Miguel Molina’s charge for was characteristically spirited, reeling in Griffin’s lead to under three seconds: could the JMW Ferrari pass the Irishman and extend enough of a lead to negate the penalty? The stewards considered the #55 car had also been exceeding track limits though and handed out a 10-second penalty to be added to its next pit stop. With no more stops to take, these would have to be added on at the end of the race. Molina caught Griffin, passing into Luffield, but Cairoli’s #88 Porsche in third – and penalty free – was only 7.4 seconds behind their battle… The race looked in the bag for the Porsche .
Cairoli was all over Matt Griffin, whose tyres seemed to be well past their best, the Irishman having a very wide moment on the final lap to lose further time as Molina took the flag for JMW.
Cairoli though had been in extreme fuel saving mode and also had a wide moment at the final turn, Astonishingly that left Molina with a lead at the flag of 10.126 seconds, just enough to overcome the Ferrari’s penalty and a spectacular victory was declared.
“We all drove well, Alex and Liam did a fantastic job. Of course we got the 10 second penalty and I don’t know how, but I had to recover everything. I still don’t believe we did that but it’s a great result for us,” said Molina at the end of the race.