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European Le Mans Series

Racing Engineering Wins 4H Le Castellet in ELMS Debut

Pla, Nato, Petit victorious in ELMS opener on Racing Engineering’s debut…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

Racing Engineering has claimed victory in its European Le Mans Series debut, with its Oreca 07 Gibson driven by Olivier Pla, Norman Nato and Paul Petit taking top honors in Sunday’s Four Hours of Le Castellet at Paul Ricard.

Pla crossed the line 4.827 seconds ahead of Matthieu Vaxiviere in the No. 33 TDS Racing Oreca for the win.

The Spanish-run Oreca benefited from an incident just before halfway that took out the rival DragonSpeed Oreca of Ben Hanley, Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman.

Lapierre led the opening stages and despite a front-left puncture was still in contention heading into the second half of the four-hour contest.

However, Hedman had a heavy collision with a GTE Ferrari at the fast Signes right-hander that took both cars out of the race and triggered a safety car period.

From there the Racing Engineering crew commanded proceedings with Petit and ex-Formula 2 racer Nato each taking victories in their first LMP2 race appearances.

Duqueine Engineering finished third with Nicolas Jamin, Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici only seven seconds down at the end despite making an extra pit stop.

The No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca finished fourth, while the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson rounded out the top-five.

Last Lap Pass Gives JMW Ferrari Victory in GTE

GTE class honors went to the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE crew of Miguel Molina, Liam Griffin and Alex MacDowall.

A thrilling last-lap battle between Molina and Matteo Cairoli in the Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR resulted in the Ferrari factory driver making the vital move at Turn 7.

Cairoli started the final tour in the lead, but Molina attempted to squeeze through on the inside of the last corner before the Mistral Straight, forcing the Porsche to take evasive action across the stripy run-off.

Cairoli re-joined the track in front further down the straight, but Molina held the better line through Signes and held on to claim a dramatic victory.

In LMP3, British outfit RLR MSport chalked up its first class win since 2015 with Rob Garofall, Job van Uitert and John Farano.

RESULTS: 4H Le Castellet

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


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