Jota Sport converted its pole position into victory in this afternoon’s European Le Mans Series Four Hours of Red Bull Ring, Harry Tincknell finishing 27.478 seconds ahead of Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Tristan Gommendy.
The win for Tincknell, who shared the car with Simon Dolan and Filipe Albuquerque, marked the first victory for the No. 38 Jota Sport Gibson 015S Nissan in the European Le Mans Series this season and the third different winner in as many races.
Having started from pole position Filipe Albuquerque held onto the lead at the start, but two safety cars in the opening hour meant the Portuguese driver was unable to pull away from the rest of the field.
The double safety car period resulted in a change in strategy for Jota Sport and allowed the No. 33 Eurasia Motorsport Oreca 03R Nissan to take the lead, until Pu Jun Jin made a small mistake on lap 52 and Simon Dolan moved the No. 38 Gibson 015S back into the lead.
Dolan kept his foot in, but a hard-charging Pierre Thiriet in the No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan passed the Eurasia Oreca, before closing the gap to Dolan. The two battled for the lead, until Thiriet came in for his team’s third pit stop, still in second place.
As Tristan Gommendy rolled down pit road the safety car was deployed, Dolan responded immediately by diving into the pits and taking full advantage of the situation. The gap between the two cars increased to 15 seconds, but moments after the restart David Markozov crashed the No. 27 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan, bringing out the safety car again.
Despite another brief safety car period in the final hour Tincknell was able to extend the lead, before making his team’s final pit stop with just over 20 minutes remaining. Tincknell rejoined behind Gommendy, but the No. 46 Oreca was given a stop-go penalty and dropped behind the Gibson again.
In the remaining minutes Tincknell was able to keep Gommendy at bay and after four hours of racing and 151 laps completed the Brit crossed the line to take the first win of the season. On the final lap Gommendy was spun by the GTE leading Ferrari, but he was able to get going again and claimed second place.
The No. 37 SMP Racing BR01 Nissan was unable to take advantage and finished in third place, the first-ever podium finish for the Russian squad. Jon Lancaster finished 3.1 seconds behind in fourth.
Krohn Racing and Murphy Prototypes completed the top six, with Nathanael Berthon spinning out of an almost certain podium finish, after contact with the No. 52 BMW Team Marc VDS BMW Z4 GTE just over ten minutes from the end.
The LMP3 class was once again a battle for survival for most teams. The No. 3 Team LNT Ginetta-Nissan of Charlie Robertson and Sir Chris Hoy dominated and crossed the line first, albeit in a distant 18th overall place. Villorba Corse took second place, five laps behind the class winners. After the race the No. 5 Ginetta got a three-lap penalty for a driving time infringement.
In GTE the battle for victory was only decided in the final moments. The No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia lost its pole position and started from the back, following a fuel infringement. With just over 20 minutes remaining Matt Griffin was in the lead, immediately followed by Mikkel Mac and Matteo Cressoni.
Griffin lost the lead on the final lap, when Mac attacked him into the final corner and then hit the overall second-placed Oreca. The No.60 Formula Racing Ferrari finished 0.667 seconds ahead of Griffin. Cressoni made it a Ferrari top three, with BMW Team Marc VDS taking fourth place.
The No. 62 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 won the GTC class, ahead of the TDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3.