ELMS: Maiden win for LMP2 team Jota Sport at Red Bull Ring Spielberg
The race win went to the no38 JOTA Sport Gibson-Nissan, with Harry Tincknell crossing the line to score the British team’s first ELMS win of 2015 and put them into the championship lead by just two points with two rounds remaining. However JOTA Sport faced an intense challenge from the no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca-Nissan, with Tristan Gommendy leading by 20 seconds with 30-minutes left on the clock. But fate played a part when the team were handed a stop and go penalty for ignoring the red light at the end of the pitlane and Gommendy was forced into the pits.
The Frenchman emerged 1.7 seconds behind Tincknell and it was game on for the last 20 minutes of the race. However the English driver pulled a gap of 4.5 seconds and Gommendy’s challenge came to an end when he was tapped into a spin by a backmarker. Gommendy got the car facing in the right direction and he took the chequered in second place ahead of Kirill Ladygin in the no37 SMP Racing BR01, the first podium for the Russian built LMP2 car.
While everyone was watching the action at the front of the field, the LMGTE front runners were providing an equally exciting battle for top honours. The no55 AF Corse Ferrrari of Matt Griffin had fought its way to the front of the field after starting the race at the back of the grid for a technical infringement in qualifying. However the Irish driver was under immense pressure from the no60 Formula Racing Ferrari 458 of Mikkel Mac and the no51 AF Corse Ferrari of Matteo Cressoni. Less than one second separated the three competitors and for lap after lap they battled for position.
With five minutes left on the clock Cressoni dropped back but Mac kept the pressure on Griffin, trying to force a mistake. On the last lap it looked like AF Corse Ferrari was going to take the win but the spinning no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca gave Mac an opportunity to make a move and the Dane went ahead with less than a lap remaining to take the chequered flag to take the victory for himself, Johnny Laursen and Andrea Rizzola.
The GTC podium was headed by the no62 AF Corse Ferrari of Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Stuart Hall and were joined by the BMW Z4 crew from TDS Racing and the trio of drivers in the Massive Motorsport Aston Martin. The TDS Racing BMW of Franck Perera was leading the class and handed the car over to Eric Dermont. At the restart after one of the safety car periods Dermont had to go onto the grass to avoid a slower car and the BMW spun off into the gravel at Turn 3. The BMW was snatched from the gravel and Dermont rejoined the race but not until the AF Corse Ferrari had taken the lead, which Stuart Hall held until the chequered flag.
With three races completed JOTA Sport are leading the LMP2 title race by two points (60 points) from Thiriet by TDS Racing (58 pts). The Greaves Motorsport team are lying in third place on 50 points after scoring a fourth place finish in Austria behind SMP Racing.
In LMP3 it was another dominant class win for Charlie Robertson and Chris Hoy in the no3 Nissan powered Team LNT Ginetta, their second victory of 2015. The Scottish teammates finished five laps ahead of the no5 Villorba Corse Ginetta.
In LMP3 Charlie Robertson and Chris Hoy have accumulated 52 points from the three rounds and hold a 12 point advantage over Rob Garofall.
Victory for the Formula Racing team has given the Danish team, and drivers Andrea Rizzola, Johnny Laursen and Mikkel Mac (48 pts), a five point advantage over the no55 AF Corse trio of Matt Griffin, Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott (43 pts).
Eighteen championship points for second in the GTC class for the no59 TDS Racing crew of Dino Lunardi, Eric Dermont and Franck Perrara has allowed the French team to retain their Championship lead with 56 points after three races compared to 51 points accumulated by the AF Corse duo of Francesco Castellacci and Stuart Hall.
The next round will be at the Circuit Paul Ricard on the 14/15 September for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet.