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European Le Mans Series

Prema Wins 4H Imola in Late Stop Under Yellow

Late FCY allows Italian squad to bounce back from multiple penalties to win…


Prema has taken its second consecutive victory in the European Le Mans Series by winning the 4 Hours of Imola, bouncing back from multiple penalties thanks to late pitstop under yellow.

The No. 9 Oreca 07 Gibson, driven by Lorenzo Colombo, Ferdinand Habsburg and Louis Deletraz took an unlikely victory after the team was hit with three separate penalties, including two drive-throughs.

The Italian squad took the lead of the race on the opening lap when Colombo shot past pole-sitter Francois Perrodo into Turn 1.

Colombo was able to make a good getaway because the second half of the front row was empty with TDS Racing starting from pit lane, but race control judged Colombo not to have respected the start procedure by changing lanes before the line and was handed a first drive-through penalty.

Surprisingly, the Italian was able to retain the lead as he came in to serve the penalties while the other LMP2 cars pitted for its first scheduled stops.

When a first full course yellow was then called for a collision between Michael Fassbender and Pierre Ehret at Tosa, Colombo took advantage by making his own scheduled stop under yellow, saving him a significant amount of time.

The No. 9 Oreca was then deemed to have crossed the white line at pit exit during his earlier drive-through, resulting in a second drive-through that ended up costing it the lead.

The battle for the top spot subsequently shifted to Cool Racing and Panis Racing, with the latter initially leading in the No. 37 Oreca with Niklas Kruetten at the wheel.

Their French rivals, however, managed to quickly recover from an early spin by Julien Canal and took the lead of the race when Job van Uitert emerged in the lead in the No. 65 Oreca after a round of stops in the third hour, dropping Kruetten’s co-driver Yifei Ye to second.

In the final hour of the race, Ye was able to take the lead of the race by slipping up the inside of Van Uitert shortly after a full course yellow caused by a stranded BHK Motorsport Oreca of Sergio Campana at Variante Villeneuve.

Shortly thereafter, both drivers made their final stops and Ye retained the lead, giving the impression that Cool Racing had the race under control.

However, Muelhner Motorsport’s Thomas Laurent then made a failed attempt to overtake Duqueine Team driver Richard Bradley at Tamburello, leaving Laurent trapped in the gravel.

Another full course yellow was called, which allowed both Prema’s Deletraz and the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca of Tom Gamble to make their final stops under yellow and subsequently vaulted up to first and second ahead of Cool’s Ye.

Deletraz kept Gamble at bay to claim an unlikely victory, with Cool third and Panis fourth ahead of the No. 28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Loup Chatin, Paul Lafargue and Patrick Pilet, which completed the top five. 

United Autosports Takes LMP3 Honors; Oman With TF Sport Wins GTE

In LMP3, United Autosports took a dominant class victory with the No. 3 Ligier JS P320 Nissan driven by Andrew Bentley and Kay van Berlo.

The Anglo-American squad took the lead in class in the second hour and ultimately won by a full lap over the No. 27 Cool Racing Ligier of Antoine Doquin, Jean-Ludovic Foubert and Nicolas Maulini.

Maurice Smith, Michael Benham and Malthe Jakobsen rounded out the podium in the sister car.

The Swiss squad’s No. 17 Ligier was able to take to the podium after Inter Europol Competition’s No. 17 Ligier of Noam Abramcyzk, Mateusz Kapryzk and James Dayson came to a halt within the final fifteen minutes.

Oman Racing with TF Sport took a dominant 1-2 victory in GTE, meanwhile, with the pole-sitting No. 69 Aston Martin Vantage GTE claiming class honors.

Ahmad Al Harthy, Sam de Haan and Marco Sorensen took the race win after a commanding run, initiated by a strong set of opening stints from Al Harthy.

The Omani driver then handed over to De Haan, who was quickly caught and passed by the No. 95 sister car driven by Jonny Adam.

However, De Haan regained the lead when the Aston Martin factory driver pitted not much later to hand over to Henrique Chaves.

The black and silver Aston Martin retained the lead from then onwards, with Sorensen taking the car to the flag.

Adam, Chaves and John Hartsthorne finished second to secure an Aston Martin one-two.

Takeshi Kimura, Frederik Schandorff and Mikkel Jensen initially finished third on the road for Kessel Racing in their No. 57 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

However, the Ferrari’s rear diffuser was found to not be in compliance with article 6.1 of the series’ sporting regulations during post-race scrutineering.

The team was therefore disqualified, promoting the No. 55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and David Perel to third place in class.

RESULTS: 4 Hours of Imola

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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