French team GRAFF took their first European Le Mans Series victory this season in spectacular style when Richard Bradley survived a last-lap drive-through penalty to cross the line in first at today’s Four Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The Briton crossed the line just 0.581 seconds ahead of G-Drive’s Ryo Hirakawa after having his 20 second lead virtually wiped out when he served a drive-through penalty for track limits abuse during an overtake on the #27 SMP Racing Dallara earlier in the race.
The team dodged a second bullet when a post race stewards enquiry found them guilty of using multiple tyre guns during an earlier pitstop, however, it was deemed no advantage was gained and the team merely received a 300 Euro fine. The win gave GRAFF not only their first win in the 2017 season, but their first overall win in the Series to date.
Hirakawa also fell foul of the stewards when his #22 car was handed a drive through penalty for a safety car infringement whilst Leo Roussel was driving – the penalty effectively ending their hopes of victory today. G-Drive continue to lead the series however their lead has been cut to just one point.
Despite all the Dallaras having a tough time in qualifying their race pace appeared improved and the #27 SMP Dallara of Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev that won last time out at Circuit Paul Ricard finished third, 15.488 seconds behind Hirakawa to complete the overall podium.
United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque finished fourth in the highest-placed Ligier JS P217 some 17 seconds shy of the winning time.
In the LMP3 class, Austrian team AT Racing led the majority of the race in the distinctive black and orange ‘World of Tanks’ Ligier JS P3 of Alexander Talkanitsa Sr.and Jr. and Mikkel Jensen and, like GRAFF, survived the steward’s wrath and a Stop/Go (with engine off) penalty to take the class victory.
David Droux brought Duqueine Engineering’s #7 Norma M30 over the line a lap adrift for second, four seconds ahead of the #2 United Autosports Ligier of Sean Rayhall and John Falb.
Moving on to GTE, Spirit of Race took the win in a Ferrari 488 GTE 1-2 with the #51 car of Gianluca Roda, Rino Mastronardi and Andrea Bertolini taking it’s first win of the season. Will Stevens brought home the #66 JMW Ferrari in second a lap down with the ageing #99 Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage coming home in third, just under 33 seconds behind the yellow Ferrari.
It was an incident packed race in which we saw six full course yellow/safety car periods to recover cars, debris and in one of the most noteworthy incidents, repair barriers following a high speed crash into the tyre barriers by Andrea Roda in the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier which resulted in the car coming to rest upside down. Roda was taken to the circuit medical facility and later released, unhurt by the incident.
— ELMSeries_Official (@EuropeanLMS) September 24, 2017