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European Le Mans Series

G-Drive Extends Points Lead with Dominant Catalunya Win

G-Drive Racing takes commanding 4H Barcelona victory; Inter Europol wins LMP3…

Photo: MPS Agency

G-Drive Racing extended its European Le Mans Series LMP2 points lead with a second straight victory of the season in the 4 Hours of Barcelona.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Job van Uitert and Roman Rusinov dominated the race after their Oreca-based No. 26 Aurus 01 Gibson took the lead during a pit sequence in the opening hour.

It marked the second 2019 wins for van Uitert and Rusinov, and the first for Vergne who missed the Paul Ricard and Monza rounds due to date clashes with Formula E.

Rusinov started from third behind the IDEC Sport and Cool Racing Oreca 07 Gibsons but jumped ahead when the LMP2 field came in to pit after 35 minutes during the first of four Full Course Yellow periods.

Later on, Rusinov handed over to van Uitert who consolidated the G-Drive car’s position, while Vergne finished the job in the final stint by turning a 40-second lead into a one-lap advantage.

Vergne finished comfortably ahead of Tristan Gommendy, who grabbed second in the No. 39 Graff Oreca following a late pass on Richard Bradley in the No. 30 Oreca of Duqueine Engineering.

Bradley, who had been Vergne’s closest challenger when the field was released from the final FCY period with just over an hour remaining, lost pace at the end and ultimately finished fourth.

Antonin Borga got through right at the end to secure Cool Racing’s first-ever ELMS podium after earlier stints by Nico Lapierre and Alexandre Coigny.

With the G-Drive car disappearing up the road, the fight for second turned into the headline positional battle with multiple switches between the Graff, Cool Racing and Duqueine cars.

Lapierre made up two positions in the third hour, coming off best in an entertaining scrap with Gommendy before diving up the inside of Jamin in the Duquine Oreca at Turn 11.

The Cool Racing crew then lost two places when Borga took over the run to the flag, but the Swiss driver made up one of those positions on Bradley late-on.

Rounding out the top five at the end was the IDEC Sport Oreca which Lafargue shared with Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas.

Despite having the pace to match the leaders, IDEC  lost its provisional podium spot through an early drive-through for pit lane speeding and also had a spin later in the race.

In sixth was the No. 25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca, while the two highest-placed Ligier JS P217 Gibsons came through two laps down on the winner in seventh and eighth, and just ahead of the Carlin-entered Dallara P217 Gibson. 

Inter Europol, Luzich Take Class Honors

Martin Hippe and Nigel Moore won a non-stop LMP3 class contest for Inter Europol Competition, while Luzich Racing dominated the second half of the race to win in GTE.

Inter Europol’s LMP3 win came after a thrilling four-way battle for the lead erupted in the final hour and a half.

The pole-sitting No. 11 Eurointernational Ligier JS P3 Nissan led the majority of the opening stanza but was forced to retire when Jens Petersen spun deep into the gravel at Turn 7.

Mike Guasch inherited the lead in the No. 2 United Autosports Ligier but multiple position changes led to the Inter Europol Ligier winning despite serving a drive-through penalty for contact at the top of the final hour.

Moore made the move of the race with a clean lunge down the inside of Tommy Erdos’ No. 2 United Ligier into the Turn 1 right-hander.

Erdos was then overtaken by Matthieu Lahaye in the No. 17 Ultimate Norma M30 Nissan with 13 minutes remaining, while Colin Noble in No. 7 Nielsen Racing Norma took fourth from Guasch in a dramatic conclusion.

Luzich Racing dominated GTE as Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Fabien Lavergne ran away from their class competition in the final two hours.

The No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE was unchallenged in the second half of the race after a close opening sequence that saw multiple cars share out the lead.

But by the end, Pier Guidi held a 40-second cushion over Matteo Cressoni in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari also driven by Jeff Segal and Wei Lu, and was ahead of the entire LMP3 field until the final five minutes.

Spirit of Race and the No. 83 Kessel Racing crew completed a Ferrari sweep of the top four places, while Project 1’s Porsche finished fifth.

RESULTS: 4H Barcelona

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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