The third round of the European Le Mans Series took place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria this weekend. The top three podium finishes were the same winners who won round two in Imola back in May. It was Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet driving the Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA03 who finished first, followed by the No.36 Signatech Alpine drien by Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici. Third came Natacha Gachnang and Franck Mailleux driving No.43 Morgan Judd of Morand Racing.
The LMPC Category was won by Gary Hirsch and Paul Loup Chatin for the second time in the season, driving the Team Endurance Challenge FLM09 No.49. Second place was their teammates Alex Loan and Nico Verdonck in the No.47 FLM09. Third place in this category came Algarve Pro Racing FLM09 No.46.
In the LMGTE category, Ram Racing sandwiched the n°66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini and Joel Camathias, with Johnny Mowlem and Matt Griffin in n°52 on the first place, and n°53 Ferrari of Gunnar Jeannette and Frank Montecalvo, third.
In the GTC category, it was SMP Racing Ferrari F458 GT3 who won for the second time under the hands of Fabio Babini, Viktor Shaitar and Kirill Ladygin in the n°69 car. Second place was the No.62 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Andrea Rizzoli, Stefano Gai and Lorenzo Casé while third in this class came the only BMW Z4 in the race of Ecurie Ecosse and driven by Ollie Millroy, Andrew Smith and Alasdair McCaigh.
During the race, the No.18 Murphy Prototype was the first to visit the pit lanes and it would later fail to stop. The car was pushed over to the paddock where a new starter motor was installed but the hopes of gaining major points were gone, it was behind by over 17 laps.
In the LMP2 category, Pierre Thiriet leads with 65 points after gaining 25 in the race, placing his team in the lead at the LMP2 Driver and Team Series Trophies. Second place is Mathias Beche with 50 points for the No.36 Signatech Alpine while third comes Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici with 48 points. The following were remarks by the winners after the race.
LMP2: Pierre Thiriet of No.1 Thiriet by TDS Racing, ORECA 03-Nissan
The race was not easy. The car was good, but the traffic was difficult to deal with. I also had to find the right balance between performance and risk: I decided to take less chances and I was able to manage the gap to the Alpine. As always, the team did a superb job and Mathias (Beche) also had two great stints. We decided to forget about Le Mans and this victory feels good. It motivates us for the future.
LMPC: Gary Hirsch of N0.49 Team Endurance Challenge, ORECA-FLM 09
The win was much hard this time than at Imola, but we did it. I didn’t know the track at all so I had to learn quickly. Paul-Loup qualified well and had a good double stint to create a sizeable gap. I had to maintain that advantage and, despite difficult traffic conditions with GTs that were quick on the straights, we completed the mission. I’m very happy with the weekend : the performance of the car was there, and we’re continuing our progression, all while widening our points lead in the championship.
Matt Griffin of No.52 Ram Racing Ferrari 458 Italia
I had no particular issues but I didn’t make the best start and kind of got hung out to dry at Turn 2 and ended up half on the track and half on the grass. This track, although it’s great, is difficult to pass on as you have to be very sure you can make the move, so I just thought I’d bide my time, while sitting in 3rd. I got by Gunnar for 2nd with a bit of him from him, and then caught the JMW car and got past him. The car was incredible and I was able to pull a gap out straight away.
A double stint round here is very physical and hot so we talked on the radio about whether I was okay to continue for the second hour, but I was happy in the car and we did a second stint on the same tyres to save some time in the pits. They started to drop off a little bit towards the end but by that time I’d manage to do some damage to the field and it was great that Johnny was able to get in and finish the job off.