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Silverstone, 18-19 April, 2014

The first round of the 2014 European Le Mans Series took place at the Silverstone circuit on Saturday 18 April, with practice and qualifying sessions on the preceding Friday. The race was billed as the 4 Hours of Silverstone, and was a prelude to the FIA WEC race on the Sunday. There was a good entry, with a total of 38 cars spread fairly evenly between the three classes, 11 in the LMP2 group, 13 in the LMGTE one, and 14 in the GTC class. The weather was far more clement this year than last year, as all sessions and the race took place under dry conditions, unlike in 2013, when rain affected some sessions, and brought the race to a premature end when conditions became intolerably dangerous on track.

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The qualifying sessions saw the # 38 Jota Sport entered Zytek Z11SN-Nissan of Dolan / Tinknell / Albuquerque establish itself on pole position, a fairly comfortable 1.152secs ahead of the # 34 Race Performance entered Oreca 03-Judd of Frey / Mailleux, which was only 0.058sec ahead of the similar Nissan powered # 48 example entered by Murphy Prototypes and driven by Gonzalez / Kapadia / Chandok. In the LMGTE class, the # 72 SMP Racing entered Ferrari 458 GT2 of Bertolini / Shaitar / Zlobin claimed the class pole, a little over 0.5sec quicker than the similar # 66 JMW Motorsport entered example of McKenzie / Richardson / Zampieri. This in turn was just over 0.2sec ahead of the # 55 AF Corse entered Ferrari of Cameron / Griffin / Rugolo, and in fact Ferrari 458 GT2s filled the top six qualifying positions covered by less than 2secs. The GTC class was also a Ferrari qualifying benefit, with the # 71 SMP Racing 458 GT3 of Ladygin / Basov / Persiani claiming pole position by less than 0.2sec from the # 96 Team Ukraine entered example driven by Kruglyk / Chukanov / Pier Guidi, with the # 63 AF Corse entry of Rasmussen/Lind 3rd fastest. Unfortunately the class pole sitting # 71 car was scratched due to unspecified technical problems prior to the race. However, that still left a total of 15 Ferraris competing across the two GT classes, a real bonanza for Ferrari fans!

The # 38 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan lead from the start and had the legs on its main rivals, but it all came to nought, as what had been an incident free race entered the final hour. Unfortunately it was the lead car that was involved in the incident with cars being lapped, which saw it spear off the track after contact, and crash heavily into the safety barriers eliminating it from the race, and bringing out the safety car while the debris was cleared up. Fortunately, despite the heavy impact, the driver, Simon Dolan, was uninjured. This obviously closed the field up and when they were released with around 35mins remaining on the clock, it was a tight battle to the end between the new top three runners.

The three main protagonists for victory were the # 34 Oreca 03-Judd of Frey / Mailleux, which had been running 2nd at the time of the incident, the # 46 Morgan-Nissan of Thiriet / Bady / Gommendy, and the # 43 Morgan-Judd of Klien / Hirsch / Brandela. Gommendy at the wheel of the # 46 car managed to get ahead of Frey in the # 34 car on lap 112, and managed to maintain the advantage to the chequered flag to give victory to the Thiriet by TDS Racing team, with Frey less than 4secs in arrears, whilst Hirsch driving the # 43 car of Newblood by Morand Racing took the final podium spot less than a second behind the # 34 car.

In the LMGTE class the victory went to the Ferrari 458 GT2 that had qualified 3rd quickest, the # 55 AF Corse entered example of Cameron / Griffin / Rugolo, which was a fraction under 5secs ahead of the pole sitting # 72 SMP Racing entry of Bertolini / Shaitar / Zlobin. The final podium place went to the # 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Narac / Armindo / Hallyday. In the GTC class it was a full Ferrari podium, with the example that inherited class pole after the withdrawal of the # 71 SMP car, the # 96 Team Ukraine example of Kruglyk / Chukanov / Pier Guidi, taking the win by just over 7secs. The 2nd place finisher was the # 73 SMP Racing entry of Beretta / Markozov / Ladygin, some 10secs clear of the # 60 Formula Racing example of Magnussen / Laursen/Mac. Despite some frantic battles during the course of the race, there were only two retirements from the 37 scars that started.

Results and Ferrari chassis numbers >>>

Keith Bluemel