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Schatz, Chila Win Road to Le Mans Race 1 for Graff

Nicolas Schatz, Adrien Chila lead Norma top-five sweep in Road to Le Mans Race 1…

Photo: MPS Agency

Nicolas Schatz and Adrien Chila won the first of two Road to Le Mans races in support of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Thursday afternoon, driving for Graff.

The French pair took their No. 39 Norma M30 Nissan to a 4.515-second lead after 11 laps of racing, leading an all-Norma top five.

Schatz moved into second after the mandatory driver-change pit stop and inherited the lead when erstwhile leader Duncan Tappy was given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release.

Tappy took his Lanan Racing Norma through the pit lane with eight minutes on the clock, allowing Schatz to move ahead and stay out front until the end of the 55-minute contest. 

Tappy and Michael Benham could only recover to finish fourth, behind other Normas from DKR Engineering and Nielsen Racing. 

Marco Cencetti finished second in his No. 5 DKR car he shared with Marcello Marrateotto, whiled Colin Noble completed the podium in his and Anthony Wells’ Nielsen car.

Francois Kirmann led the race from pole at the start but the No. 3 DKR driver eventually lost out to Yann Ehrlacher by the end of the first lap.

Ehrlacher remained out front for the entire first stint in his M Racing Norma, while Kirmann ended up pitting for a new nose at the end of the opening lap after picking up front-right damage.

The race then ran behind the safety car for over 20 minutes after Adrien Trouillet went off track at Corvette Curve, spinning several times and hitting the concrete wall.

The clean-up took considerably long due to the broken polystyrene advertising boards spread across the track by the No. 9 Graff Norma.

Pit stops were completed behind the safety car, while Ehrlacher’s co-driver Laurent Millara remained out front until he was passed for the lead by Tappy at Tertre Rouge on the restart with 18 minutes on the clock.

Mac, Lavergne Take GT3 Class Honors for Luzich

Luzich Racing took GT3 honors despite Beechdean AMR leading most of the race, with Mikkel Mac and Fabien Lavergne reaching the top step of the podium.

Mac made a pass on Andrew Howard in the laps after the restart, moving his Ferrari 488 GT3 ahead of the Beechdean owner/driver who had taken over from Ross Gunn.

The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 came into the pits late in the race and dropped down the order, meanwhile.

SPS Automotive Performance finished second with its Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Tom Onslow-Cole and Valentin Pierburg, while Spirit of Race’s Maurizio Mediani and Christoph Ulrich made it two Ferraris on the podium in third.

The second 55-minute Road to Le Mans contest will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EDT) on Saturday.

RESULTS: Race 1

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

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