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ELMS Le Castellet ... 4 hours of Castellet


60, Ferrari 488 GTE _EVO_, s_n 3830, KESSEL RACING, Claudio Schiavoni_Sergio Pianezzol_Andrea Piccini

60, Ferrari 488 GTE _EVO_, s_n 3830, KESSEL RACING, Claudio Schiavoni_Sergio Pianezzol_Andrea Piccini

 

Le Castellet, France, 14 April 2019

The first round of the 2019 European Le Mans Series was held at the Le Castellet (Paul Ricard) circuit in the South of France on 14 April, billed as the 4 hours of Castellet, following a pre-season test session there earlier in the week. The race attracted an entry of 41 cars across the three classes, 18 in the LMP2 class, 14 in the LMP3 class and 9 in the LMGTE class. The main feature race had a strong support programme, comprising of a round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup series, a 2 hour endurance race on the Saturday afternoon, together with a trio of the new “stepping stone” single seater category, Formula Regional European Championship races, plus a pair of Ferdinand Cup races for pre-1996 Porsches. Despite some torrential rain and storms in the days leading up to the weekend, the race days remained bright and sunny with pleasant ambient temperatures, no doubt to the relief of both teams and spectators. A nice feature was that public entry was free, including paddock access, the autograph session and grid walk, a rarity in this day and age.

After two 90mins free practice sessions, the qualifying sessions took place on the Saturday, one 10mins session for each of the three classes. These saw the and LMP2 pole position taken by the # 26 G-Drive Racing entered Aurus 01-Gibson driven by Norman Nato. He was just 0.0025sec quicker than Paul Loop Chatin in the # 28 Idec Sport entered Oreca 07-Gibson, this pair were chased hard throughout the session by the # 21 Dragonspeed entered Oreca 07-Gibson of Ben Hanley and the # 37 Cool Racing example driven by Nicolas Lapierre. The second Idec Sport entry, their # 27 Ligier JS P217, was unable to take part in qualifying due to a gearbox problem in the final practice session, which wasn’t fixed prior to the qualifying session, thus it had to start the race from the pit lane. 

In the LMP3 class the pole position was taken by the # 10 Oregon Team entered Norma M 30-Nissan, driven by Damiano Fioravanti, a scant 0.128sec quicker than Mathieu Lahaye in the # 17 Ultimate entered Norma M 30-Nissan. The LMGTE qualifying was equally close, with Alessandro Pier Guidi in the # 51 Luzich Racing entered Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO” leading the times until the dying seconds of the session, when Matteo Cairoli pipped his time by 0.273secs to put the # 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR on the class pole.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of the race was the total absence of a full course yellow or safety car intervention, which are almost a given in modern motor racing, so for a race to run without either for 4 hours was quite amazing. The pole sitting # 26 G-Drive entered Aurus 01-Gibson led the way into the first corner, with the baying pack hot on its heels. However, it didn’t take many laps for the # 21 Dragonspeed entered Oreca 07-Gibson to force its way to the head of the field and gradually put some clear air between itself and the rest of the field. At the first round of pit stops James Allen handed the leading car over to the team’s bronze grade driver, Henrik Hedman, who left the pits with a 3secs lead over the similar # 25 Algarve Pro Racing example driven by Andrea Pizzitola, which had started the race in 12th place, with the Dragonspeed car eventually dropping to 6th place at the end of Hedman’s stint. With James Allen back at the wheel it started to forge its way back up the leader board, which now had the # 30 Duqueine Engineering entered Oreca 07-Gibson in the top spot. At around three quarter distance the # 21 Dragonspeed Oreca, now driven by Ben Hanley, hit the front again, when the Duqueine car had to pit for fuel. It consolidated its position to take the race win by a comfortable margin of some 16secs from the # 28 Idec Sport entry, which in turn was some 14secs clear of the # 30 Duqueine Engineering example, taking the final podium spot, thus completing a full Oreca podium.

In the LMP3 class the # 11 Eurointernational entered Ligier JS P3-Nissan, driven by Mikkel Jensen/Jens Petersen, went from a 5th in class starting position to the head of the class by the end of the first lap, and consolidated the lead for most of the race. It was only in the closing stages that it lost the lead, when it was passed by the # 17 Ultima entered Norma–Nissan of Mathieu Lahaye / Jean-Baptiste Lahaye / Francois Heriau, which took the team’s first ELMS Class win. The final podium spot was taken by the # 13 Inter Europol Competition entered Ligier JS P3-Nissan in the hands of Martin Hippe / Nigel Moore.

The LMGTE class saw ELMS debuting team, Luzich Racing, take a commanding win with their Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”, courtesy of their stellar driving line-up of Alessandro Pier Guidi / Niklas Nielsen / Fabien Lavergne. The latter driver took the start from a 2nd in class starting position and took the lead on the first lap from the class pole sitting # 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, which was driven by Christian Reid/Riccardo Pera / Matteo Cairoli. From that point it pulled steadily away from its pursuers, and only lost its lead position through the pit stop cycles. This was despite a scare when it was clipped when being lapped by a LMP2 car, which damaged the right front wing and knocked the mirror askew. This resulted in the stewards instructing the team to effect security repairs, which they did at the next pit stop without losing too much time. The damage had little effect on the pace of the car, as it continued on to take the class win by a lap from the all female crew of Manuela Gostner / Rahel Frey / Michelle Gatting in the # 83 Kessel Racing entered Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”. The pole sitting # 77 Porsche eventually managed to take the final podium spot after initially dropping away, then having duels with the similar # 56 Project 1 entry of Egidio Perfetti / Giorgio Roda / Jorg Bergmeister and the # 66 JMW Motorsport entered Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO” of Jeffrey Segal / Matteo Cressoni / Wei Lu, the latter eventually taking 4th place while the # 56 Porsche dropped away.

 

Overall & LMP2 Podium

1st – # 21, Dragonspeed, Oreca 07-Gibson, H. Hedman / B. Hanley / J. Allen
2nd - # 28, Idec Sport, Oreca 07-Gibson, P. Lafargue / P. Loup Chatin / M. Rojas
3rd - # 30, Duqueine Engineering Oreca 07-Gibson, N. Jamin / P. Ragues / R. Bradley

LMP3 Class Podium

1st - # 17, Ultimate, Norma M30-Nissan, M. Lahaye / J-B. Lahaye / F. Heriau
2nd - # 11, Eurointernational, Ligier JS P3-Nissan, M. Jensen / J. Petersen
3rd - # 13, Inter Europol Competition, Ligier JS P3-Nissan, M. Hippe / N. Moore

LMGTE Class Podium

1st - # 51, Luzich Racing, Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”, A. Pier Guidi / N. Nielsen / F. Lavergne
2nd - # 83, Kessel Racing, Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”, M. Gostner / R. Frey / M. Gatting
3rd - # 77, Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR, C. Reid / R. Pera / M. Cairoli

 
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European Le Mans Series, Le Castellet, France, 14 April 2019

Ferrari Entry

 

Race #

Model

Chassis #

Team

Colour

Drivers

Position

 

O/A

Cl.

Class LM GTE

 

 

51

Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”

3828

Luzich Racing

Red-White-Blue- Black

A. Pier Guidi /
N. Nielsen /
F. Lavergne

27th

1st

83

Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”

3832

Kessel Racing

Blue-Black-Pink

M. Gostner /
R. Frey /
M. Gatting

30th

2nd

66

Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”

4404*

JMW Motorsport

Yellow-Black Silver-Red

J. Segal /
W. Lu /
M. Cressoni

32nd

4th

55

Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”

3812

Spirit of Race

Green Met’-White

D. Cameron /
M. Griffin /
A. Scott

33rd

5th

60

Ferrari 488 GTE “EVO”

3830

Kessel Racing

Blue-Black- Orange

C. Schiavoni /
S. Pianezzola /
A. Piccini

37th

9th

*488 GT3 Converted to GTE “EVO” Specification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Michelin Le Mans Cup, Le Castellet, France, 13 April 2019.

Ferrari Entry

 

 

 

Race #

Model

Chassis #

 Team

Colour

Drivers

Position

 

Class GT

O/A

Cl.

 

8

Ferrari 488 GT3

4444

Kessel Racing

Blue-Black-White

S. Pianezzola /
G. Piccini

8th

1st

 

71

Ferrari 488 GT3

4230

Luzich Racing

Red-White-Blue- Black

M. Mac /
F. Lavergne

15th

3rd 

 

50

Ferrari 488 GT3

4212

Kessel Racing

Red-Black-Blue

J. Hartshorne /
O. Hancock

22nd

6th

 

51

Ferrari 488 GT3

4274

Spirit of Race

Orange-GWR Stripes

C. Ulrich /
M. Mediani

23rd

7th

 

 

Keith Bluemel         
04/2019