Spa-Francorchamps ELMS: Graff wins despite late penalty

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Spa-Francorchamps ELMS: Graff wins despite late penalty
Rachit Thukral
By: Rachit Thukral
Co-author: David Gruz
Sep 24, 2017, 2:10 PM

Graff Racing scored its first win of the 2017 European Le Mans Season at Spa-Francorchamps, despite a late race penalty for the #40 crew of James Allen, Richard Bradley and Gustavo Yacaman.

#32 United Autosports, Ligier JSP217 - Gibson: William Owen, Hugo Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
#22 G-Drive Racing, Oreca 07 - Gibson: Memo Rojas, Ryo Hirakawa, Leo Roussel
#9 AT Racing, Ligier JS P3 - Nissan: Alexander Talkanitsa, Alexander Talkanitsa JR, Mikkel Jensen
#21 Dragonspeed, Oreca 07 - Gibson: Henrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre, Ben Hanley
#32 United Autosports, Ligier JSP217 - Gibson: William Owen, Hugo Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
Start: #21 Dragonspeed, Oreca 07 - Gibson: Henrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre, Ben Hanley leads
#77 PROTON Competition, Porsche 911 RSR: Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli, Joel Camathias
#28 IDEC Sport Racing, Ligier JSP217 - Gibson: Patrice Lafargue, Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin
#66 JMW Motorsport, Ferrari F458 Italia: Robert Smith, Jody Fannin, Jonathan Cocker
#77 PROTON Competition, Porsche 911 RSR: Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli, Joel Camathias

The #32 United Autosports squad led the first half of the race, having taken over the lead at the start from the two DragonSpeed-run cars.

Exactly at the midway point, Graff made an easy pass over the United Autosports entry at Les Combes to take over the lead.

From there on, the French squad looked unthreatened, with Bradley coming out from his final fuel stop 18 seconds clear in the last 20 minutes.

However, with just over two minutes remaining on the clock, Bradley was handed a drive-through penalty for overtaking the #27 SMP Racing Dallara outside the track limits.

The Englishman dived into the pits to serve his penalty on the penultimate lap, coming out just ahead of the #22 G-Drive of Ryo Hirakawa.

Hirakawa rapidly closed in on Bradley, particularly in the last sector, but the 26-year-old held onto the lead to hand Graff its first victory of the season.

However, the Paris-based squad remains under investigation for another alleged breach of rules.

Meanwhile, the G-Drive crew of Hirakawa, Memo Rojas and Leo Roussel extended their championship lead with second place, despite serving a drive-through penalty of their own in the final hour.

The #27 SMP Racing duo of Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev finished third after holding off a late charge from the United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque, William Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer.

The #21 DragonSpeed car of Ben Hanley, Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman finished half a minute adrift of the race winner in fifth, having lost a significant chunk of time in the first half of the race.

AT Racing takes LMP3 win

AT Racing’s Mikkel Jensen and Alexander Talkanitsa father-son duo took the LMP3 honours after passing the #2 United Autosports entry in the first 30 mins.

The Austrian squad took its first win of the season despite being given a drive-through penalty for a pit stop infringement.

Antonin Borga, David Droux and Nicolas Schatz finished second in the #7 Duqueine Engineering, while points-leading #2 United Autosports’ all-American duo of John Falb and Sean Rayhall completed the podium.

GTE: Spirit of Race leads JMW for Ferrari 1-2

Spirit of Race took its third successive ELMS win of the season in the GTE class, but it was the #51 crew of Andrea Bertolini, Gianluca Roda and Giorgio Roda that triumphed this time.

Le Mans GTE-Am winning outfit JMW Motorsport finished second with Jody Fannin, Robert Smith and Will Stevens behind the wheel of the #66 Ferrari.

The #99 Beachdean AMR Aston Martin, driven by Ross Gunn, Andrew Howard and Darren Turner, were third.

 

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