ELMS: G-Drive Racing Wins 4 Hours of Silverstone


The no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Gibson of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne won the 4 Hours of Silverstone, the third win in a row for the Russian flagged team to extend their championship lead. Vergne took the chequered one lap ahead of the no21 Dragonspeed Oreca of Nico Lapierre and the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Lafargue.

United Autosports took their first LMP3 win of the 2018 season with the no3 Ligier of Tony Wells, Matt Bell and Garret Grist taking the top spot ahead of the no7 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier and the no17 Ultimate Norma. 

There was drama in the LMGTE category when the first two cars on the road were both given 10 second penalties for exceeding track limits.  The no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Miguel Molina finished first but was subject to a 10 second penalty. However Molina finished 10.126 seconds ahead of the no88 Proton Competition Porsche of Matteo Cairoli, which when corrected means the No66 Ferrari wins the race by 0.126s.

At the start of the 4 Hours of Silverstone the 41 cars headed into the first corner. An incident saw the no22 United Autosports Ligier of Phil Hanson and the no47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara of Giorgio Sernagiotto spin off and rejoin down the field.

The race was led by the no23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier of Julien Canal, who held off a determined challenge from Roman Rusinov in the no26 G Drive Oreca. The Russian stuck doggedly to the tail of the Ligier but had to wait for an hour before an opportunity presented itself at Stowe Corner while overtaking some backmarkers. Rusinov dived to the outside to overtake Canal and take the lead, which the no26 Oreca held until the end of the race.

The no12 Eurointernational Ligier of Mattia Drudi converted the LMP3 pole into a good start and led into Turn1 from the no3 United Autosports Ligier of Garret Grist and the no15 RLR MSport Ligier of Job Van Uitert. Behind then the no2 United Autosports Ligier of Sean Rayhall spun off at Turn 1 and the American had to fight his way back up the order. Rayhall’s fight back came to nought when he handed the car over to John Falb when lying in 2nd place. The no2 United Autosports Ligier failed to start after the pitstop, to the obvious frustration of John Falb. The car eventually started but had dropped the American duo right out of the running.

The no88 Proton Competition Porsche of Gianluca Roda made a good start to lead the LMGTE class from Christian Ried in the no77 Proton Porsche, with Liam Griffin in the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari in third and the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron in fourth. A good battle developed with the two Ferraris eventually getting the upper hand over their Porsche rivals.

The no47 Dallara made several stops after slowing on track and eventually retired. The no22 Ligier also retired half way through the race after Hanson pulled off track and climbed out after the fire extinguisher activated disabling the Ligiers engine and systems. The no35 SMP Racing Dallara also retired after locking up and spinning across the gravel to hit the tyre wall. Victor Shaitar got the car back to the pits but the Dallara was too badly damaged to continue. A Full Course Yellow was declared while the marshals worked hard to put the SMP Racing Dallara back on track and recover the no32 United Autosports Ligier to a safe position.

At the front Andrea Pizzitola handed over the no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca to Jean-Eric Vergne and the French driver brought the car home despite a last minute splash and dash for fuel. The no21 DragonSpeed Oreca was promoted to second after the no24 Racing Engineering Oreca of Norman Nato went off into the barriers, the no23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier of Will Stevens had contacted with the no31 APR Rebellion Oreca, the no30 AVF by Adrian Valles Dallara had to pit for a new rear wing assembly and the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca also had to make a last minute splash and dash for fuel, Paul Lafargue rejoining in third to claim the final podium position.

The no3 United Autosports Ligier of Tony Wells held on to take the chequered flag to win the LMP3 category, 9 seconds ahead of the no7 Ecurie Ecosse Ligier of Colin Noble.

The drama was all happening in the LMGTE category with Miguel Molina in the no66 JMW F488 hunting down and passing Matt Griffin in the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari. The two leading Ferraris were subject to a 10 second penalty and Matteo Cairoli in the no88 Proton Porsche was catching the leading pair and only had to finish within 10 seconds of Molina’s Ferrari to take the win.

On the final lap Cairoli caught the no55 Ferrari but an incident off camera saw the two cars go off track, with the Porsche moving ahead of the Ferrari.  However, the slight delay caused by the off track moment cost Cairoli and at the chequered flag he was 10.126s behind Molina, which translated into a win for the Spanish driver by just 0.126s. This meant that victory went to the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari for the second time in 2018.

Words from LMEM, photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography