G-Drive Racing’s hopes of a third straight European Le Mans Series victory were thwarted by a late splash for fuel which enabled IDEC Sport to win the 4 Hours of Silverstone.
Memo Rojas was the key beneficiary of a late trip through the pits for Jean-Eric Vergne, who couldn’t quite maintain G-Drive’s No. 26 Oreca-based Aurus 01 Gibson to the end without needing to top up.
The IDEC Sport Oreca 07 Gibson, which Rojas shared with Paul-Loup Chatin and Paul Lafargue, subsequently came through to take the checkered flag 10 seconds ahead of the G-Drive car.
It marked the French outfit’s first-ever ELMS win, with its previous best results being a pair of second-place finishes in the opening two races of the season at Paul Ricard and Monza.
Second place for G-Drive means the Russian squad extends its championship lead over the No. 39 Graff Oreca crew of Tristan Gommendy, Jonathan Hirschi and Alexandre Cougnaud, which finished third.
Graff was the first of the leaders to make its last pit call, after Hirschi led the field away out of two lengthy safety car periods for an LMP3 car crashing out at Maggotts and two LMP2 cars colliding at Brooklands.
The Swiss driver handed over to Gommendy with 40 minutes to go for the run to the flag, but his longer fill time gave Graff’s rivals the on-track advantage.
Fourth went to the No. 21 DragonSpeed Oreca which was one of the main protagonists throughout the race.
James Allen led the field away from pole but the DragonSpeed driver spun in wet conditions created by an early rain shower that prompted several cars to pit.
The weather impacted the running order, with Matthieu Vaxiviere being promoted to the lead in the RLR MSport Oreca, but the Frenchman’s co-driver John Farano was later caught and passed by Allen, who had recovered through the field to lead again.
The Australian driver handed over to Henrik Hedman before Ben Hanley came in for the final stint, with the Ginetta LMP1 driver leading until he needed to make a late stop with just over 15 minutes to go.
This gifted the lead to Vergne, but the two-time ABB FIA Formula E champion would need to pit himself shortly before the end.
Hanley slid back to fifth, but overtook Panis-Barthez Competition’s Konstantin Tereschenko – who was driving the best-placed Ligier JS P217 Gibson – in the closing stages.
Sixth position went to the Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of Andrea Pizzitola, John Falb and Olivier Pla, while the Panis-Barthez team’s new Oreca finished seventh in the hands of Will Stevens, Julien Canal and Rene Binder.
Late-Race Penalty Hands Inter Europol LMP3 Win
In LMP3, Inter Europol Competition inherited the victory after Eurointernational’s Ligier JS P3 Nissan was handed a drive-through penalty, converted into a 30-second post-race time penalty.
Jens Petersen had been a lap ahead of the rest of the field with half an hour to go, but the Dane – who was sharing the Eurointernational car with Mikkel Jensen – lost his lap cushion when he spun briefly at Stowe.
The Eurointernational car then incurred its penalty because Petersen continued driving with a piece of loose bodywork after being called in to fix the issue.
This handed Nigel Moore and Martin Hippe the win, while Petersen and Jensen were classified second ahead of United Autosports’ Tommy Erdos, Garett Grist and Wayne Boyd.
Proton Competition claimed GTE class honors after Thomas Preining caught and passed Rahel Frey in the final hour.
The Porsche factory Young Professional went on to extend his advantage over Frey’s No. 83 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo to 27 seconds at the finish.
Preining shared the victory with Gianluca Giraudi and Ricardo Sanchez, who were two late additions to the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR’s crew for this weekend’s ELMS and FIA World Endurance Championship races.
A fierce battle for the final podium spot raged behind between Ferrari factory driver Alessandro Pier Guidi and Frey’s Kessel teammate Andrea Piccini, who ultimately came out on top.