Panoz dominate LMGT2 in Donington Park

Team LNT Panoz won the LMGT2 class after a strong drive by Warren Hughes and Robert Bell in the 1000Km European Le Mans Series race at Donington Park. The pair led for most of the race but lost the lead to a strong performance by Andrea...

Team LNT Panoz won the LMGT2 class after a strong drive by Warren Hughes and Robert Bell in the 1000Km European Le Mans Series race at Donington Park. The pair led for most of the race but lost the lead to a strong performance by Andrea Montermini in the #97 GPC Sport Ferrari F430 before the Italian hit an LMP1 car in the closing stages of the race.

The pole-position #99 Virgo Motorsport Ferrari of Tim Sugden initially lost the lead at the start but maintained the pressure on the #97 GPC Sport Ferrari of Andrea Montermini and took the lead after the first hour.

After the first round of pit stops the #81 Team LNT Panoz Esperante emerged in the lead at the hands of Warren Hughes after a strong opening stint by of Robert Bell, closely followed by the #76 Autorlando Sport Porsche of Joel Camathias.

The #99 Ferrari of Dan Eagling had moved up to second place during the second round of pit stops but was pushed off the circuit on lap 85 and dropped back to sixth.

The #75 Thierry Perrier of Nigel Smith ground to a halt at the Old Hairpin while running sixth on lap 102, stopping on the racing line causing cars to take to the grass in avoidance. He crawled very slowly back to the pits.

Tim Sugden took over the #99 Virgo Motorsport in fifth place on lap 125 but returned to the pits straight away with a broken splitter and loss of power steering.

The #97 Ferrari of Andrea Montermini caught and passed the second-placed #76 Autorlando Sport of Marc Lieb on lap 124 and Montermini put in a very strong stint to close the gap to the leading #81 Team LNT Panoz by around one second per lap. Montermini eventually caught the back of the Panoz on lap 175 and dived down the inside of Warren Hughes at the Melbourne Hairpin.

Montermini went off the circuit on lap 181 at the Old Hairpin after contact with Phil Bennett's #15 Pro Tran Competition Protran and both cars were firmly stuck in the back of the gravel trap. Warren Hughes retook the lead straight back and Montermini rejoined in third position after losing three minutes. He then handed over to Gabrio Rosa who returned to the pits a few laps later suffering from overheating but was able to resume in third position.

"Basically I was doing the corner but I had someone hit me on the back," said an upset Montermini. "There was nothing I could do. Someone is completely out of order. Perhaps after a couple of hours people don't know what they are doing. I don't know what happened."

Other incidents in the class include the #86 Spyker Squadron of Tom Coronel which spun off the circuit with broken right-front suspension at the exit of the Old Hairpin on lap 20, and the #80 Farnbacher Racing of Lars Erik Nielsen and Marco Seefried was unable to start because Nielsen had wrenched his shoulder.

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Series ELMS