Winners at Imola, Gary Hirsch and Paul-Loup Chatin took another victory on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring, site of the third round of the European Le Mans Series.
The drivers of the No. 47 completed the three-hour race on the same set of tires !
Meanwhile, suffering from a puncture in the early moments of the race, Anthony Pons and Soheil Ayari finish in fourth position in the LM PC class, behind Nicky Catsburg and C.O. Jones, drivers for the Algarve Pro Racing Team.
Gary Hirsch (Team Endurance Challenge, ORECA-FLM 09 #49, 1st LM PC): "The win was much hard this time than at Imola, but we did it. I didn’t know the track at all so I had to learn quickly. Paul-Loup qualified well and had a good double stint to create a sizeable gap.
I had to maintain that advantage and, despite difficult traffic conditions with GTs that were quick on the straights, we completed the mission. I’m very happy with the weekend : the performance of the car was there, and we’re continuing our progression, all while widening our points lead in the championship."
Paul-Loup Chatin (Team Endurance Challenge, ORECA-FLM 09 #49, 1st LM PC): "My first stint went well : I was able to quickly take the lead and create a good lead for ourselves. Then, I managed my second stint because we were thinking about doing the entire race on one set of tires.
But in the end, our advantage was such that we decided to change the tires after all. Gary perfectly managed the end of the race, we won again and that’s important for the title chase. I continue my good streak at the Red Bull Ring, but there are still two more rounds in the championship and nothing is certain. Budapest will be interesting : it’s a track with a lot of rhythm, which I like. It’s where I had my first victory, in Formula Renault, so I’m excited to race there in a prototype."
Although Paul-Loup Chatin signed the pole position time, it was erased due pass under yellow flag. As a result, Algarve Pro Racing Team take the start from the pole, but can’t hold on for very long. Starting fourth in the No.48 ORECA-FLM 09, Soheil Ayari takes the lead before the end of the very first lap. He is followed by the No. 49 of Paul-Loup Chatin, while Alex Loan runs in fourth position in the No. 47.
In the ninth minute of racing, Soheil Ayari is forced to pit after suffering from a puncture. Paul-Loup Chatin takes the lead, while Alex Loan begins the charge to take second place by the first half-hour of the race.
While Paul-Loup Chatin creates a nice advantage for himself, the first round of pitstops happen without issues for all. As the No. 49 and No. 47 Team Endurance Challenge ORECA-FLM 09 entries maintain their advantage, the No. 48 races for the third position with Algarve Pro Racing Team. On a track where the traffic is dense, the French team’s drivers make no mistakes and continue their elevated pace to begin the last sting in the same running order.
Behind the wheel of the No.49 since the halfway point, Gary Hirsch has to resist the pressure put on by a charging Nico Verdonck, ex-Formula Le Mans champion, running in the No. 47. The gap is reduced all the way to seven little seconds by the end of the race, but Hirsch maintains his lead to take a second victory with Chatin, and confirm their status as leaders in the championship. The pair Verdonck/Loan take the second spot on the podium, ahead of Catsburg/Jones. Even with a flawless race, the duo of Pons/Ayari were unable to come back after their puncture early in the race.