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European Le Mans Series

Signatech Alpine Dominates Hungaroring

Pierre Ragues, Nelson Panciatici dominate Three Hours of the Hungaroring…

Photo: DPPI/ELMS

Photo: DPPI/ELMS

Signatech Alpine scored its first European Le Mans Series victory in a challenging Three Hours of the Hungaroring.

Nelson Panciatici took the No. 37 Alpine-branded Oreca-Nissan to a 38.268-second victory over the No. 18 Murphy Prototypes Oreca-Nissan of Brendon Hartley, who mounted an impressive late-race charge in changing conditions.

Pole-sitter Hartley recovered nearly two laps, following a dominant early race performance by Pierre Ragues, who was in a class of his own in wet and drying conditions in the Michelin-shod prototype. The Frenchman nearly lapped the entire field by the end of his first stint, before handing over to Panciatici for the run to the checkered flag.

The commanding performance marked the Alpine brand’s first victory since its return to endurance competition this year.

Murphy’s Hartley and Jonathan Hirschi came home second, ahead of the No. 38 Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN Nissan of Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan in third, bouncing back from a puncture late in the opening hour.

It was a day to forget for LMP2 championship leaders Thiriet by TDS Racing, which suffered an early race collision and multiple unscheduled trips to the pit lane for tire changes. Pierre Thiriet and Mathias Beche finished five laps behind in 6th overall.

Thiriet now holds an 18-point lead over the Jota Sport pairing heading into the season finale later this month.

LMPC honors went the way of the No. 49 Team Endurance Challenge Oreca FLM09 of Gary Hirsch and Paul Loup Chatin, who cruised to a hefty 14-lap victory over the second-placed sister entry, which suffered various issues.

Proton Competition picked up top class honors in GTE, with its No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Nick Tandy, Klaus Bachler and team principal Christian Ried finishing one lap ahead of the points-leading No. 52 Ram Racing Ferrari F458 Italia of Johnny Mowlem and Matt Griffin in second.

The German squad took over the top spot in the second hour when the then-class leading No. 67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of JK Vernay served a stop-and-hold plus 1-minute penalty for passing under a local yellow.

Ram’s day was far from perfect as well, as Mowlem made an unscheduled stop to fix a mirror, while it’s all-American entry of Gunnar Jeannette and Frankie Montecalvo came home sixth after a spin and wrong gamble on tires.

SMP Racing squad took a 1-2 finish in GTC after a swap between the two Russian entries on the penultimate lap. The No. 69 Ferrari, driven to the checkered flag by Fabio Babini, was credited with the class win, who in turn took over the championship lead.

Teams battled challenging conditions from the green to the checkered, with the track never fully drying after intermittent periods of rain. It resulted in a number of spins and different tire strategies for competitors in all classes.

The ELMS season concludes at Paul Ricard on Sept. 27-28.

RESULTS: Three Hours of the Hungaroring

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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