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European Le Mans Series

Cool Racing Victorious in 4H Barcelona

Lorenzo Fluxa, Ritomo Miyata and Malthe Jakobsen take victory in ELMS season opener…

Photo: Cool Racing

Cool Racing took its first overall race victory in the European Le Mans Series, with Lorenzo Fluxa, Ritomo Miyata and Malthe Jakobsen winning the season-opening 4 Hours of Barcelona.

The No. 37 Oreca 07 Gibson finished the four-hour contest at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 16.161 seconds clear of the No. 25 Algarve Pro Racing entry of Matthias Kaiser, Olli Caldwell and Alex Lynn.

The Swiss squad started the race from fifth place, but a strong opening phase from Fluxa saw the No. 37 car climb to second behind the pole-sitting No. 22 United Autosports Oreca of Filip Ugran.

After Ugran had attempts to build a lead gap rendered null and void in traffic, Fluxa managed to capture the lead when he caught the Romanian off guard during the restart following the race’s first Full Course Yellow.

Fluxa drafted the No. 37 Oreca past Gran’s No. 22 car on the main straight and took the lead.

After that, the LMP2 debutant managed to build up a healthy advantage even after a safety car triggered by contact between Cool stablemate Alex Garcia and Vector Sport’s Ryan Cullen left both drivers stranded in the gravel at Turn 7.

After Toyota protege Miyata took over the No. 37 car, the Japanese driver soon came under pressure from a charging Caldwell aboard the No. 25 Algarve Pro Oreca.

The former Alpine LMP2 driver then took the lead from Miyata by slingshotting past him at Turn 3, only for the order then reverse again when a shorter penultimate stop allowed the newly installed Jakobsen to leapfrog back into first place.

Lynn, having taken over the No. 25 machine, then closed down a gap of some ten seconds aided by fresher tires but proved unable to pass the Dane and then lost time during the final round of stops.

This meant Lynn again faced a deficit of some ten seconds going into the final 40 minutes, which Jakobsen was able to expand to claim Cool Racing’s first overall ELMS victory.

The triumph came after the team had already taken a pair of LMP2 Pro-Am wins with Jakobsen last year, as well as an FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 class victory at Silverstone in 2019.

Fluxa and Miyata, meanwhile, became debut winners in ELMS in their first race starts in the championship.

Lynn, Kaiser and Caldwell kickstarted Algarve Pro’s LMP2 title defense with second place, although the Portuguese team came under heavy pressure from Ben Hanley’s No. 22 United Autosports Oreca in the final minutes.

A well-timed final stop for the Anglo-American squad, coming in under Full Course Yellow, meant Hanley was able to head into his final stint with fresh tires.

However, Hanley proved unable to pass his compatriot and came up short by 0.744 seconds, leaving him, Ugran and Marino Sato to complete the overall podium.

IDEC Sport finished fourth with the No. 28 Oreca driven by Paul Lafargue, Reshad de Gerus and Job van Uitert, while Arthur Leclerc, Manuel Maldonado and Charles Milesi rounded out the overall top five for Panis Racing.

In sixth place overall, the No. 83 AF Corse Oreca of Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera and Matthieu Vaxiviere picked up the LMP2 Pro-Am class victory, defeating the Richard Mille by TDS trio of Rodrigo Sales, Gregoire Saucy and Rodrigo Sales.

Inter Europol Competition’s pair of cars completed the overall top ten, separated by the No. 14 AO by TF Oreca of Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Jonny Edgar.

The Tom Ferrier-led squad, who took overall victory with their Pro-Am entry at Barcelona year ago, were eliminated from podium contention early on after damage required Kubica to pit for a nose change less than 30 minutes into the race.

Dominant LMGT3 Run for Iron Dames Ends in DNF; Formula Racing Wins

In the LMGT3 class, the Iron Dames lost out on victory by retiring from the lead in the final hour, leaving Formula Racing clear to pick up their first series win in nearly a decade.

The No. 50 Ferrari 296 GT3 of Johnny Laursen, Conrad Laursen and Nicklas Nielsen led a 1-2 finish for the Prancing Horse by finishing ahead of the No. 86 GR Racing Ferrari of Mike Wainwright, Riccardo Pera and Davide Rigon.

However, that came after the No. 85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 GT3 R stopped at pit exit in the final hour.

Up until that point, Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting had dominated the class from pole position, with Bovy even taking back the lead from Kessel Racing’s Takeshi Kiumra after the Japanese racer elected not to pit during the race’s first and only safety car.

However, after Gatting took over the No. 85 Porsche for the final stint, she stopped at pit exit with smoke briefly seen emerging from the right rear before it was pushed back to the pit lane by track workers, one of whom was seen on camera handing Gatting a wheel nut.

With the Porsche out of the picture, it left Formula Racing clear to claim its first ELMS win since the 2015 4 Hours of Le Castellet, when the elder Laursen shared a Ferrari 458 GT2 with Mikkel Mac and Andrea Rizzoli.

The class podium was completed by the No. 63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 of Hiroshi Hamaguchi, Axcil Jefferies and Andrea Caldarelli, with the latter holding off the No. 60 Proton Competition Porsche of Julien Andlauer in the final stages.

In the LMP3 class, Team Virage celebrated its first ELMS victory with the No. 8 Ligier JS P320 Nissan driven by Gillian Henrion, Julien Gerbi and Bernardo Pinheiro.

The Polish-flagged squad beat defending champions Cool Racing and their No. 17 Ligier of Cedric Oltramare, Miguel Cristovao and Manuel Espirito Santo, while the Eurointernational pairing of Matthew Bell and Adam Ali finished third.

The opening round of the ELMS season was preceded by a minute’s silence in tribute to Proton Huber Competition team manager Gerhard Freundorfer, who was killed in a paddock accident during setup for the Michelin Le Mans Cup support race on Tuesday.

RESULTS: 4 Hours of Barcelona

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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