- Best in-race lap for Racing Engineering in 1:20.330
- G-Drive Racing leading the championship by 12 points
- Three ORECA teams on the championship’s provisional podium
Erratum: Following the Duqueine Engineering team’s disqualification, the ORECA chassis are credited with a one-two instead of a hat trick.
The ORECA 07 is back in full force after the 24 Hours of Le Mans! The European Le Mans Series season resumed this weekend at the Red Bull Ring and the LMP2 prototype did not disappoint. Russian team G-Drive Racing – the current championship leader – clinched another win, and French outfit Duqueine Engineering pulled off a hat trick with Racing Engineering from Spain.
The ORECA 07 at the top of the championship
The 24 Hours of Le Mans always signals a break for the teams in the European Le Mans Series. While some ELMS competitors choose to tackle the legendary endurance race, others take the opportunity to prepare for the summer round.
For its return to the track, the ORECA 07 (fielded by no less than six teams) was at the top of its game once again, further solidifying its success at Le Mans last month.
The ORECA delegation quickly took the reins at the Red Bull Ring as early as the free practice session on Friday. During qualifying, the French prototypes further confirmed their competitive level when Paul-Loup Chatin scored pole position at the wheel of IDEC Sport Racing’s #28 ORECA in 1:19.246. This was the French team’s third pole of the season after Paul Ricard and Le Mans, with the first six spots on the start grid also going to ORECAs.
The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring began today at 12:00. From the outset, the battle was on to move up in the standings. Immediately after the start was given, Pierre Ragues in the #29 (Duqueine Engineering) took the lead, not leaving any room for discussion from Paul Lafargue in the #48. Having started in fourth position, Roman Rusinov took advantage of the traffic to slip into the top 3 at the wheel of the #26.
By the end of the first hour, the #33 (TDS Racing) driven by François Perrodo that had started in fifth position fell behind in the classification. The #26 also began to trail following a drive-thru for a premature start, losing 21 seconds. The trio Rusinov-Vergne-Pizzitola pulled off a flawless race despite several full course yellows, making its way through traffic to snatch the lead from Duqueine Engineering who had held the top spot comfortably for most of the race.
The #40 in pursuit of a top 10 position caused a yellow flag after the car spun on the track. The duel between Norman Nato (Racing Engineering) and Memo Rojas (IDEC Sport Racing) ended with the young Frenchman on top after a nonstop assault on the Mexican driver. Then Rojas made contact with another competitor and incurred a drive-thru penalty. In the last hour of the race, after a driver change, Paul-Loup Chatin tried unsuccessfully to overtake the #24 driven by Olivier Pla.
Representing DragonSpeed, Nicolas Lapierre had a stunning final stint, allowing the #21 to reach the top 6 despite challenges early in the race, including a penalty. Graff Racing’s #39 had a solid round but failed to achieve a successful result. Portuguese team Algarve Pro Racing pulled off an impressive race despite starting from the eighth row after qualifying. The trio Cullen-Newey-Menezes demonstrated remarkable top speed, climbing in the classification to finish in a respectable seventh place.
The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring has now launched the “post Le Mans” second half of the season. With this new win, the G-Drive Racing team has 62 points in the championship and boasts a 12-point lead on the next competitor in the standings.
Now the focus is turned to the next round at Silverstone where the WEC and the ELMS will both hit the track.