Spa ELMS: WRT wins to seal LMP2 title with a round to spare

Team WRT wrapped up the 2021 European Le Mans Series title after Robert Kubica, Yifei Ye and Louis Deletraz clinched their third victory of the season at Spa on Sunday.

Spa ELMS: WRT wins to seal LMP2 title with a round to spare

Arriving into the penultimate round of the season, the #41 WRT crew held an 11-point advantage over their nearest rivals Roman Rusinov, Nyck de Vries and Franco Colapinto in the #26 G-Drive Aurus.

But with Rusinov having to retire the car early after being spun by the #34 Racing Team Turkey Oreca driven by Salih Yoluc at the opening turn, victory was sufficient for the WRT trio to put the title mathematically beyond reach for its rivals.

Formula 1 race winner Kubica took the start in the #41 WRT Oreca from third on the grid and was immediately up to second when Phil Hanson’s #22 United Autosports car suffered a puncture in the opening lap chaos.

When Yoluc went off at the gravel at Turn 5 and brought out the first FCY just 35 minutes into the race, the leading LMP2 crews took advantage of the situation to complete their pitstops. 

WRT elected to keep Kubica in the car for a second stint, which allowed the Polish driver to leapfrog the polesitting #37 Cool Racing Oreca now driven by Alexandre Coigny.

There was another lead change in the second round of pitstops, with the #32 United Autosports Oreca that had started last following a heavy crash for Nico Jamin in qualifying getting a jump on the erstwhile leading WRT.

But Yifei, now at the wheel of the #41 Oreca, was able to pass Manuel Maldonado going into Les Combes to put his team back in the lead of the race with just over two hours to run.

From there on the WRT crew cruised to the chequered flag, with Deletraz bringing the car home five seconds clear of the #30 Duqueine Oreca after an off for Christophe Cresp in the #5 MV2S Ligier JS P320 brought out a late FCY.

Having bagged 25 points in the race, Kubica, Yifei and Deletraz - who were cruelly robbed off a victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours last month - enjoy an unassailable 36-point lead heading into the final round of the season at Portimao in October.

The result further underlined the credentials of Belgian squad WRT in its first season in prototype machinery, after its full season FIA World Endurance Championship entry driven by Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi claimed the LMP2 class win at Le Mans in the team’s first appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Behind the #41 crew, Tristan Gommendy, Memo Rojas and Rene Binder finished second at Spa in the #30 Duqueine entry after Gommendy passed both Job van Uitert in the #32 United entry and James Allen’s #65 Panis Racing Oreca during his stint.

The final spot on the podium went to Allen, Will Stevens and Julien Canal's Panis entry.

The LMP2 Pro-Am battle is yet to be decided after Coigny, Milesi and Nicolas Lapierre finished fourth overall, three spots ahead of the class-leading #25 G-Drive Aurus, piloted at Spa by Rui Andrade, John Falb and Gustavo Menezes.

LMP3 honours went to Laurents Hoerr and Mathieu de Barbuat, the duo clinching a third consecutive class win for the #4 DKR Engineering squad to close the gap to #19 Cool Racing trio Matt Bell, Niklas Kruetten and Nicolas Maulini to just five points.

AF Corse took victory in the GTE class, with Alessio Rovera, Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard beating the similar Ferrari of points leaders Miguel Molina, Rino Mastronardi and Matteo Cressoni (Iron Lynx).

Race results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 41 Poland Robert Kubica
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
China Ye Yifei
Oreca 07  
2 30 France Tristan Gommendy
Austria Rene Binder
Mexico Memo Rojas
Oreca 07 5.318
3 65 France Julien Canal
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Australia James Allen
Oreca 07 19.544
4 37 Switzerland Alexandre Coigny
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 23.198
5 32 Netherlands Job Van Uitert
France Nico Jamin
Venezuela Manuel Maldonado
Oreca 07 26.236
6 28 France Paul Lafargue
France Paul-Loup Chatin
France Patrick Pilet
Oreca 07 1'07.468
7 25 United States John Falb
Portugal Rui Andrade
United States Gustavo Menezes
Aurus 01 1'24.134
8 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
South Africa Jonathan Aberdein
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
Oreca 07 1'33.014
9 35 Italy Francesco Dracone
Italy Sergio Campana
Germany Markus Pommer
Oreca 07 1 Lap
10 29 France Matthieu Lahaye
France Jean Baptiste Lahaye
Oreca 07 1 Lap
11 4 Germany Laurents Hörr
Mathieu de
Duqueine M30 - D08 3 Laps
12 19 Nicolas Maulini
United Kingdom Matthew Bell
Germany Niklas Krütten
Ligier JS P320 3 Laps
13 2 United Kingdom Wayne Boyd
Robert Wheldon
Edouard Cauhaupe
Ligier JS P320 3 Laps
14 8 France Eric Trouillet
Sebastien Page
Switzerland David Droux
Ligier JS P320 4 Laps
15 20 United States Rob Hodes
Canada Garett Grist
Charles Crews
Ligier JS P320 4 Laps
16 18 Italy Bressan Alessandro
Greece Andreas Laskaratos
Italy Damiano Fioravanti
Ligier JS P320 4 Laps
17 9 Switzerland Matthias Kaiser
Finland Rory Penttinen
Ligier JS P320 5 Laps
18 3 United States Jim McGuire
Duncan Tappy
Andrew Bentley
Ligier JS P320 5 Laps
19 88 France François Perrodo
France Emmanuel Collard
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO 6 Laps
20 80 Italy Matteo Cressoni
Italy Rino Mastronardi
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO 6 Laps
21 6 United Kingdom Nick Adcock
United States Austin McCusker
Netherlands Max Koebolt
Ligier JS P320 6 Laps
22 83 Switzerland Rahel Frey
Belgium Sarah Bovy
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO 6 Laps
23 93 Germany Michael Fassbender
Germany Felipe Fernández Laser
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 6 Laps
24 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Paolo Ruberti
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO 6 Laps
25 66 United Kingdom Jody Fannin
Italy Andrea Fontana
United States Rodrigo Sales
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO 7 Laps
26 77 Germany Christian Ried
United States Cooper MacNeil
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 7 Laps
27 95 United Kingdom John Hartshorne
United Kingdom Ross Gunn
United Kingdom Ollie Hancock
Aston Martin Vantage AMR 8 Laps
28 7 United Kingdom Tony Wells
United Kingdom Colin Noble Jr.
Ligier JS P320 8 Laps
29 11 Italy Andrea Dromedari
Jacopo Baratto
Joey Alders
Ligier JS P320 9 Laps
  5 Cresp Christophe
France Fabien Lavergne
Adrien Chila
Ligier JS P320 8 Laps
  14 Italy Mattia Pasini
Mateusz Kaprzyk
Nicolas Pino
Ligier JS P320 21 Laps
  13 Germany Martin Hippe
Ugo De
Australia Aidan Read
Ligier JS P320 52 Laps
  24 Mexico Diego Menchaca
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
United Kingdom Richard Bradley
Oreca 07 80 Laps
  15 Mike Benham
United Kingdom Alex Kapadia
Malthe Jakobsen
Ligier JS P320 80 Laps
  55 United Kingdom Duncan Cameron
Ireland Matthew Griffin
South Africa David Perel
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO 81 Laps
  34 Turkey Salih Yoluc
Ireland Charles Eastwood
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Oreca 07 86 Laps
  26 Russian Federation Roman Rusinov
Argentina Franco Colapinto
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Aurus 01 98 Laps
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