JOTA Sport took its first ELMS victory of the season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria today, and as a result climbed to the top of the point’s standings in the 2015 ELMS title chase.
Harry Tincknell crossed the finishing line 24.748s seconds clear of the Thiriet by TDS ORECA 05-Nissan to claim a maximum 25 points, to add to the one point already bagged after Tincknell took pole position this morning.
The Thiriet by TDS ORECA had looked set for back-to-back ELMS victories with just 25 minutes of the four-hour race remaining, but was forced to relinquish the lead after being penalised for leaving the pitlane exit under a red light at its final stop, taken under safety car.
The stop/go penalty dropped the TDS LMP2 coupe back down to second place, but just two seconds adrift of Tincknell, setting up a grandstand finish.
The JOTA Sport Gibson was able to manage the gap sufficiently to cross the line and claim the title lead by just two points over the Thiriet by TDS ORECA trio of Gommendy and his team mates Ludovic Badey and Pierre Thiriet.
Safety car punctuated race
The JOTA Sport Gibson 015S Nissan was started by Filip Albuquerque, who pulled out an immediate gap on the opposition, setting a succession of fastest laps. The Portuguese led an impressive Mikhail Aleshin in the No.37 SMP Racing BR01 in the early running, but twice saw his hard fought gaps were reduced because of a pair of first-hour safety car periods.
After Simon Dolan took over in the second hour, the former Le Mans LMP2 class winner battled first with the Greaves Motorsport Gibson-Nissan, and then came under intense pressure from Pierre Thiriet, with the two fighting gamely for the lead.
Dolan’s pace was sufficient enough however for the JOTA Gibson-Nissan to reclaim the lead in the final two stints with Tincknell exploiting the cars inherent pace.
After the final safety car seemed to have thrust the race back in to TDS’ hands, JOTA just managed to retake the lead after Gommendy’s penalty. With Tincknell able to ward off the advances of his French adversary, the race was essentially won, and when Gommendy suffered a penultimate lap spin after coming across a ferocious LMGTE class lead battle, Tincknell could cruise the final lap.
“What a race, it was up and down the whole way, we had to build up the leads again after the safety cars,” said Tincknell. “Simon (Dolan) was phenomenal to maintain the lead and the team were amazing. I was pushing like hell from the start.”
SMP Racing celebrated its first podium position with the new Paolo Catone designed BR01 LMP2 coupe. Aleshin’s excellent opening stints were backed up by the Ladygin brothers – Anton and then Kiril – to finish just ahead of the Graves Motorsport Gibson, which was delayed by a stop/go penalty early in the event.
It was far from a perfect day for the Russian SMP team , as the sister No. 27 SMP Racing BR01 car crashed heavily, triggering the fourth safety car when David Markozov clouted the barriers at turn one.
There was heartbreak for the Murphy Prototypes as Nathanael Berthon spun out of third position in the final 15 minutes. The Frenchman was doubtful to race at all when he was forced to seek medical treatment when he suffered dizzy spells just before the start of the race.
The GP2 driver completed the final stint of the race and after the spin came home in sixth place just ahead of the Krohn Racing Ligier-Nissan of Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Julien Canal.
The LMP3 class was won by Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson in the No.3 Team LNT Ginetta-Nissan. The pair dominated the class to head home the Villorba Corse Ginetta and claim their second win of the season after a debut victory at Silverstone in April.
Ferrari claim both GT class wins
A typically thrilling LMGTE class race went right down to the wire once again with the Formula Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Johnny Laursen, Mikkel Mac and Andrea Rizzoli taking the plaudits.
Mac hunted down Matt Griffin’s AF Corse Ferrari on the final lap after an entertaining dice which saw the first three covered by just 1.5s.
Griffin’s AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia led going in to the final lap after an epic race by the Irishman and his team mates Duncan Cameron And Aaron Scott. They had been forced to start the race from the back of the grid after a small amount of rogue fuel had been found in the tank after qualifying.
The fightback saw Griffin leading on the final lap, and there was contact between his Ferrari and Mikkel Mac’s example before the Danish racer slipped through and crossed the finishing line just 0.667s ahead. The Danes now lead the LMGTE points table as a result of today’s victory.
Matteo Cressoni was just behind the squabbling lead duo in his AF Corse he shares with Peter Mann and Raffaele Giammaria to take third place.
In the GTC class, the No.64 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia cruised to victory with Stuart Hall, Francesco Castellaci and Thomas Flohr. They finished two laps ahead of the TDS run BMW Z4 which was leading the class until Eric Dermont spun off the track and in to the gravel at turn three.
The next round of the 2015 ELMS takes place at Paul Ricard in the first weekend of September.