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European Le Mans Series

Hanson, Albuquerque Win for United After G-Drive Crashes Out

United Autosports wins in LMP2 after G-Drive crashes out in final hour…

Photo: ELMS

Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque won the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Spa for United Autosports after G-Drive Racing crashed out of the lead in the final hour.

The No. 22 United Oreca 07 Gibson of Hanson and Albuquerque took a comfortable first win of the season by more than half a lap ahead of its nearest LMP2 class rival.

United had been embroiled in a fierce battle with the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibson for most of the race but a small mistake resulted in a race-ending crash for the latter.

Hanson maintained the pole-sitting car’s margin in the opening stages but a lead change came on the first safety car restart when Mikkel Jensen got past the Brit on the Kemmel Straight.

The pair swapped places twice in the third hour after a round of pit stops before Albuquerque snapped up the lead on a Full Course Yellow restart after Jensen got caught behind traffic.

Once again Jensen managed to soar back past Albuquerque into the lead at Les Combes, however, that was short-lived with Jensen losing control in greasy conditions at Pouhon and skating into the barrier.

Hanson put his head down in the final hour and cruised to victory alongside co-driver Albuquerque in the No. 22 United entry.

A late FCY for debris threatened to throw a spanner in the works for the remaining spots on the LMP2 podium as Thomas Laurent in the No. 39 Graff Oreca had to defend his second place.

On the final lap, Tristan Gommendy in the No. 30 Duqueine Team Oreca snatched up third and was hunting down Laurent for second before a puncture saw Gommendy spin with only a handful of corners to go.

This allowed Laurent to cross the line second in the car he shares with James Allen and Alexandre Cougnaud, while Will Stevens had to settle for third aboard the No. 31 Panis Racing car alongside Julien Canal and Nicolas Jamin.

Double Victory for United; Ferrari 1-2 in GTE

United Autosports also claimed LMP3 class honors courtesy of the No. 2 Ligier JS P320 Nissan of Wayne Boyd, Tom Gamble, and Rob Wheldon.

The pole-sitting trio were largely unchallenged in their class and finished ahead of the second-placed No. 7 Nielsen Racing Duqueine M30 – D08 Nissan of Anthony Wells and Colin Noble.

Third went the way of Eurointernational’s Ligier JS P320 Nissan No. 11 entry of Thomas Erdos and Niko Kari.

Martin Hippe in the No. 13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P320 Nissan caused the first safety car of the race in the opening hour after contact with another LMP3 car saw him land up in the barrier.

Kessel Racing was victorious in the GTE class with the No. 74 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of David Perel, Michael Broniszewski, and Marcos Gomes after a topsy-turvy race.

Ferrari enjoyed a one-two finish thanks to the No. 88 AF Corse car of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Harrison Newey.

Aston Martin Racing was third with the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage driven by Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Augusto Farfus who made his debut with the team.

The Aston had led in the opening portion of the four-hour encounter as the Kessel Racing Ferrari and No. 77 Proton Competition 911 RSR also engaged in the GTE lead battle.

Proton Competition found itself out front until Michele Beretta had a spin at Raidillon which handed the top spot back over to Kessel Racing.

Shortly before the end of the first hour, the No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari went hard into the wall after being tapped by the No. 32 United Autosports LMP2 entry of Will Owen for which the latter received a stop-and-go penalty.

RESULTS: 4H Spa

Slade Perrins is an Australian-based reporter for Sportscar365. Perrins won the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars 'Young Gun Award' for journalism for his work with speedcafe.com.

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