The #3 DKR Engineering Norma M30 squad of Francois Kirmann and Laurents Horr took their second Le Mans Cup victory of the season today at Barcelona.
The team’s M30 finished some 16 seconds ahead of the #2 Nielsen Racing Ligier JSP3 shared by Anthony Wells and Colin Noble. DKR Engineering also takes the lead of the Michelin Le Mans Cup Team Championship in absence of the #25 Lannan Racing Norma M30, with this win.
Wayne Boyd and Mike Guasch finished third in the #24 United Autosport Ligier JSP3, some fifty-five seconds behind the winning Norma. The pole-sitting car, the #39 GRAFF Norma M30 finished just off the podium.
Shortly after the start the #39 GRAFF Norma M30 driven by Adrien Chila grabbed the lead ahead of Francois Kirmann in the #3, Alexander Talkanista Junior in the #90 AT Racing Ligier JSP3 and Anthony Wells in the #2.
Chila and Kirmann pulled away easily while the #90 retired on lap 8 following mechanical problems.
The race then encountered a first full course yellow after a spin for James Dayson in the #14 RLR M Sport Ligier left the car stranded in the gravel at Turn 9.
On the restart, the top three positions remained unchanged. Moments later though, Chila collided with the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari while defending his position. Chila was unhappy: “I don’t understand what happened. The #51 driver did not see the blue flag. It’s sad to finish my stint that way”.
This led later to a drive-through penalty which the #39 failed to take in time, leading to another penalty for the French crew, their chances of a win evaporating as a result.
After the mid-race driver change, the #39 now driven by Nicolas Schatz observed both drive-throughs, returned on track in third position but soon handed the slot to a charging Wayne Boyd in the #24 United Autosport Ligier JSP3.
Meanwhile, Horr in the #3 took the lead from the Graff car, ahead of Colin Noble and cruised to the checkered flag. The Brit reduced the gap with the leader significantly from 20-25 seconds to 10-15 seconds but never managed to come closer.
Laurents Horr: “We were a bit lucky with the (fate of the) #39 but we had the pace. After Le Mans, it’s another win. We are leading the Championship. It really feels great”.
That leaves the #3 crew in a strong position in the Championship, 83 points to the second-placed Lanan Norma squad’s 66 – with the Nielsen Norma duo on 61 – with 52 points still up for grabs.
Meanwhile, in GT3, the #8 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini took its second victory of the season, some nine seconds ahead of the #88 Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3 R shared by Riccardo Pera and Alessandro Baccani. A further 22 seconds behind the #88 was the #71 Luzich Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Mikkel Mac and Fabien Lavergne.
The #35 pole-sitting car driven by Marco Zanuttini, had a difficult start and lost 5 positions on the first lap. In contrast, Alessandro Baccani (#88 EbiMotors Porsche 911 GT3.R) had an incredible start, starting 4th from the grid and taking the lead at the end of lap 1, ahead of Sergio Pianezzola (#8) and Mauro Calamia (#7 Scuderia Villorba Corse Mercedes AMG GT3).
At the restart of the first full course yellow episode though, Pianezzola regained the lead ahead of the #88 and the #7.
The #88 and the #7 fought for second position until contact occurred between the 2 cars. The #88 then dropped to 4th position but remained close to the lead cars.
At the restart of the second full course yellow, the #8 kept first position ahead of the #7 and the #71 Luzich Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 while the #88 observed a drive-through penalty – a jump start adjudged!
Once the mid-race driver change occurred, the #88 closed the gap with the #71 and eventually overtook the Ferrari on Lap 38. From that point on, top three positions remained unchanged until the checkered flag.
Just off the GT3 podium was the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR shared by Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn who lost a significant amount of time behind the #55 Spirit of Race Ligier JSP3 during the second half of their race, this after the Ligier, in the hands of Michele Rugolo passed both the Aston and the following #54 SPS AMG before immediately slowing his pace by some 3 seconds per lap until the end of the race, preventing the pair of GTs from continuing to close on the Luzich Ferrari ahead – a gap that had tumbled as Gunn closed in for the kill.
Next up for the Michelin Le Mans Cup is the 4 Hours of Spa on September 20/21, 2019.