ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
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ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola
ELMS – 4 Hours of Imola

Imola, 13-15 May, 2016

The second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series was held at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy, over the weekend of 13-15 May. The meeting also featured the inaugural round of the, new for 2016, Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup series, plus three races for the single model Renault Sport Trophy series, featuring their R.S.01 track-only model. As in previous years, entry to the circuit was free for spectators, with only a nominal €10 fee for paddock access, which gave access to the pit walk and autograph session on the Sunday morning. Initially the weather for the weekend didn’t look promising, with rain forecast virtually throughout. However, as is frequently the case, the forecasters got it wrong, and for the most part it remained dry warm and sunny, with the rain falling overnight, that is until about an hour from the end of the main race on Sunday afternoon, when the skies opened!

4 Hours of Imola
With a 42 car entry in the three classes, 14 in the LMP2 class, 20 in the LMP3 class and 8 in the LMGTE class, there was plenty of on track activity to witness, during the two 90mins practice sessions on the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, followed by separate 10mins qualifying sessions for each class on Saturday afternoon. Qualifying honours in the premier LMP2 category went to the # 21 Dragonspeed entered Oreca 05-Nissan, driven by Hedman/Lapierre/Hanley, which was followed only 0.035sec behind by the # 46 Thiriet by Tds Racing Oreca 05-Nissan of Thiriet/Beche/Hirakawa, and the # 23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P2-Nissan of Barthez/Buret/Chatin, with both these cars posting identical times. The LMP3 class pole position was taken by the # 3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3-Nissan of Patterson/Bell/Boyd, with the # 11 Eurointernational entry of Mondini/Roda/Jacobini 2nd fastest, and the sister # 2 United Autosports entry of Brundle/GuaschEngland 3rd quickest. The LMGTE class pole position went to the # 77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR GT2 of Hedland/Henzler/Renauer, with the # 66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT2 of Smith/Butcher/Bertolini only 0.051sec in arrears, and the second # 88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR GT2 of Roda/Bachler/Reid, only 0.087sec further back. In fact seven of the eight runners in the class were covered by only around 0.5sec. However, one of the seven took no further part in proceedings, as Christina Nielsen put the # 60 Formula Racing Ferrari into the barriers, and although fortunately she was unhurt, the same couldn’t be said for the car, which was hors de combat.

When the lights went out for the rolling start, the # 21 Dragonspeed Oreca maintained the lead from pole position chased by the Thiriet example and the rest of the field, which despite some crowding managed not to trip over each other to any great degree, with only the # 18 M.Racing-YMR LMP3 Ligier JS P3 collecting a left rear puncture through contact in the opening melee. The top three qualifiers were never far apart in the opening stages, although the leading # 23 car did manage to put some clear air between itself and the # 46 Oreca and the # 23 Ligier, with the latter eventually getting past to run second going into the first round of pit stops. Further back the # 2 United Autosports LMP3 pole sitter had lost the class lead to the sister # 3 car after having a slight moment when being lapped by a LMP2 car, whilst the # 77 Porsche built up a comfortable advantage over its pursuers in the LMGTE class. As the race progressed through the pit stops and driver changes, it was the # 46 Oreca that took the lead, whilst the other class leaders remained unchanged. Approaching 5.00pm, or three quarterdistance, the skies were darkening, and the first spots of rain started to fall, which within minutes became a deluge, and cars were spinning everywhere, even the leading car, which managed to get pointed in the right direction without losing position. This was fortuitous, as a full course yellow was declared, and with the rain continuing to fall heavily the safety car was brought out. Even though the rain ceased before the race ended, the track conditions were deemed to treacherous to allow the field to go racing again, so the race went to the full time and finished under the safety car.

Overall & LMP2 Podium

1st # 46, Thiriet by Tds Racing, Oreca 05-Nissan, P. Thiriet/M. Beche/R. Hirakawa
2nd # 38, G-Drive Racing, Gibson 015S-Nissan, S. Dolan/H. Tincknell/G. Van Der Garde
3rd # 21, Dragonspeed, Oreca 05-Nissan, H. Hedman/N. Lapierre/B. Hanley

LMP3 Podium

1st # 2, United Autosports, Ligier JS P3-Nissan, A. Brundle/M. Guasch/C. England
2nd # 11, Eurointernational, Ligier JS P3-Nissan, G. Mondini/A. Roda/M. Jacobini
3rd # 16, Panis Barthez Competition, Ligier JS P3-Nissan, E. Debard/V. Moineault/S. Gachet

LMGTE Podium

1st # 77, Proton Competition, Porsche 911 RSR GT2, M. Hedlund/W. Henzler/R. Renauer
2nd # 66, JMW Motorsport, Ferrari 458 GT2, R. Smith/R. Butcher/A. Bertolini
3rd # 56, AT Racing, Ferrari 458 GT2, A. Talkanitsa/A. Talkanitsa Jr/D. Rigon

Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup

The Michelin GT3 Cup support race was of two hours duration on the Saturday afternoon, and attracted an eleven car entry, for the inaugural event. However, it should be borne in mind that on the same weekend there was a round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone, which is also for GT3 cars, and has been well established for some time. The field was reduced to ten starters when the # 5 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracan ended up in the barriers during practice, and was damaged beyond immediate repair. Pole position went to the # 7 Scuderia Italia entered Ferrari 458 GT3 of Lucchini/Cressoni, followed by the # 88 Mentos Porsche of Perfetti/Bachler, the # 34 TF Sport Aston Martin and the # 55 FFF Racing Mclaren, all covered by less than a second.

The front row sitting Ferrari and Porsche had a contretemps at the Acqua Minerale chicane on the opening lap which saw the believed instigator of the incident, the Porsche out of the race and the Ferrari dropped down the order, and out of contention for what should have been a possible victory. This left the # 34 Aston Martin of Yoluc/Hankey in a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish to take the win from the hard charging # 55 McLaren of Hamaguchi/Quaife-Hobbs.


1st # 34, TF Sport, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, S. Yoluc/E. Hankey
2nd # 55, FFF Racing Team by ACM, McLaren 650S, H. Hamaguchi/A. Quaife-Hobbs
3rd # 26, Classic & Modern Racing, Ferrari 458 GT3, N. Misslin/M. Vaxiviere

Renault Sport Trophy

The Renault Sport Trophy competitors had two sprint races each of 25mins duration, plus a 70mins endurance race spread over the weekend. The endurance race had two drivers, one of amateur standing and one professional, with each competing in one of the sprint races, equalising track time between all competitors, and providing a colourful multihued spectacle for the spectators, particularly the trio of pink, yellow and green Oregon Team cars. Although the entry was not large in numbers, it was certainly international, with drivers from as far away as Brazil, Colombia and Thailand, with a number of European countries represented, but strangely with no drivers from Renault’s homeland, France. The cars feature a Carbon fibre monocoque and a mid-mounted V6 engine producing 550hp coupled to a seven speed sequential gearbox, and is seen as a stepping stone to major GT racing series. It certainly produces some close spirited racing, with the amateur driver race winner only finishing a fraction over half a second ahead of the 2nd place car, whilst the gap was only a little under 4 seconds in the professional race, and under 6 seconds in the endurance race.

Podium Race 1(Endurance)

1st # 3, R-ace GP, K. Korjus/F. Blomstedt
2nd # 4, Oregon Team, B. Bonifacio/A. Mendez
3rd # 9, Team Marc VDS EG O.O, M. Palttala/F. Schiller

Podium Race 2 (Sprint)

1st # 9, Team Marc VDS EG O.O, F. Schiller
2nd # 3, R-ace GP, F. Blomstedt
3rd # 15, Team Marc VDS EG O.O, F. Rueda

Podium Race 3 (Sprint)

1st # 4, Oregon Team, B. Bonifacio
2nd # 5, Oregon Team, D. Fumanelli
3rd # 3, R-ace GP, K. Korjus

... Ferrari Chassis Numbers >>>

Keith Bluemel

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