Today’s 4 Hours of Silverstone had it fair share of action, not least from the weather with Silverstone providing its usual mixed bag of sunshine and heavy showers.
IDEC Sport took the overall victory in the fourth round of the 2019 European Le Mans Series in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca with Memo Rojas taking the chequered flag after the #26 G-Drive Racing Aurus had to make a ‘splash and dash’ for fuel a mere four minutes before the end of the race.
As the race reached its final hour, Nigel Moore in the distinctive yellow and green #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier chased down a two minute gap to catch Jens Petersen in #11 Eurointernational Ligier. Despite a valiant effort by Moore he could not pass Petersen who took the flag first but was immediately handed a 30 second penalty for not respecting a Black and Orange flag to repair the rear panel earlier in the race.
The #13 Ligier was declared the winner but in a twist of fate was later handed a 1m43s penalty for not respecting the minimum driving time. So the final positions represented those on track with the #11 Ligier handed back the win and the #13 Ligier second.
Thomas Preining took the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR to the win in LMGTE taking the flag 27.8 seconds ahead of the #83 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Rahel Frey.
The race started in dramatic fashion with the track being declared wet at the start as the rain clouds on the horizon got closer. The #21 DragonSpeed Oreca of James Allen kept the lead while behind the leaders there were a few cars that went off at the first corner, with all rejoining the battle.
In LMP3 the #17 Ultimate of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye took the lead ahead of pole sitter Yann Ehrlacher in the #19 M Racing Norma. Ehrlacher later pitted for wets in what was a bad decision seeing the effective end of the #19’s race.
In LMGTE, it was the #60 Kessel Racing Ferrari out in front at the start with Sergio Pianezzola moving ahead of the #88 Porsche of Gianluca Giraudi, the Italian dropping back to 3rd as the #83 Kessel Ferrari of Michelle Gatting moved up to second place.
The rain that had been forecasted duly arrived and most of the grid dived into the pits for wet tyres after just 5 minutes of racing. The #21 DragonSpeed of James Allen didn’t pit and stayed out on slicks gambling that the rain would quickly clear. Mikkel Jensen made the same gamble in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier and the Dane found himself in the class lead.
The #43 RLR MSport Oreca of Matthieu Vaxiviere was revelling in the wet conditions, the French driver moving up the field to take the lead as the #21 DragonSpeed Oreca pitted for wets. Vaxiveire held an 18 second lead over the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Oreca of Will Stevens.
The next victim of the rainy conditions was the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Wei Lu which ended in the gravel at T7, bringing out the first Full Course Yellow of the race. The car was quickly recovered and the race went green after only four minutes.
A second FCY period was declared ten minutes later when the #22 United Autosports Ligier of Phil Hanson went off at Brooklands: the car lost all power and the British driver was forced to retire.
Once again the race went green very quickly after the car was placed behind the barriers at Luffield. The rain had stopped and the track had started to dry out. The #43 RLR M Sport Oreca was over 30 seconds ahead of the #24 Panis Barthez Ligier of Konstantin Tereschenko. Mikkel Jensen also held a 30 second lead in LMP3 with Christian England in the #3 United Autosports Ligier in second. It was a Kessel Racing 1-2 as Sergio Pianezzola led in the #60 488 GTE, 15 seconds ahead of the #83 Ferrari of Michelle Gatting.
Matthieu Vaxiviere pitted from the lead to hand over to Canadian John Farano, rejoining the track with an 8 second lead. However, the more experienced drivers in the following cars soon caught and passed Farano, who was down to sixth a few laps later with James Allen back into the lead in the #21 DragonSpeed.
There was further woes for Farano when he was the innocent victim of a collision between the #30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca of Nicolas Jamin and the #14 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of Sam Dejonghe. The #43 Oreca was clipped by the #14 Ligier and Farano had to return to the pits where a damaged wishbone needed replacing. Nicolas Jamin was given a drive through penalty for causing the accident.
A Safety Car was deployed when the #3 United Autosports Ligier of Mike Guasch and the #24 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier of Timothe Buret collided and the LMP3 car ended hitting the concrete wall hard. The American driver was conscious and initially taken to the circuit medical centre for checks, he was later moved to hospital where a broken back was diagnosed.
After twenty minutes the race resumed only for a second Safety Car to be deployed almost immediately as the #37 Cool Racing Oreca and the #19 M Racing Norma collided, the Oreca ending up in the middle of the track and was hit by the #30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca.
With an hour to go the race resumed with the #39 Graff Racing Oreca of Jonathan Hirschi out in front of the field. The Swiss driver was judged to have acted dangerously during the Safety Car period and was given a drive through penalty. The #26 G-Drive Racing Aurus of Jean-Eric Vergne took the lead with Memo Rojas in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca following.
Jens Petersen in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier was nearly a lap ahead of the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of Nigel Moore, the British driver lapping over five second faster than the leader.
In LMGTE the #83 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Rahel Frey was leading with the #88 Proton Competition Porsche of Thomas Preining closing rapidly. The Austrian passed the Swiss driver on the run into Stowe Corner and started to open up a gap. The #51 Luzich Racing and #60 Kessel Racing Ferraris were battling hard for third place with the #60 488 getting the upperhand.
With 30 minutes to go Ben Hanley in the #21 DragonSpeed was out in front, passing the #26 G-Drive Aurus for the lead. However, it was short lived when Ben Hanley had to pit and Jean-Eric Vergne went back into the lead ahead of the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca and the #39 Graff Oreca 07. It looked like Vergne was heading for the Russian team’s third win in a row, but the French driver had to pit for a ‘splash and dash’ fuel stop. This put Rojas into the lead and the victory.
The #11 Eurointernational Ligier was being caught by the #13 Inter Europol Ligier but it looked like Petersen was going to hold on. But disaster struck when the team received a black and orange flag to bring the car in to repair a damaged splitter.
The German driver stayed out and took the chequered flag but was issued with a drive through penalty converted to a 30 second time penalty, dropping the #11 Eurointernational Ligier down the order. This promoted the #13 Ligier of Martin Hippe and Nigel Moore into the class winning position.
However, it all changed again when the #13 Ligier was handed a 1m43 second penalty for not respecting the driving time for the bronze driver. This switched the two cars around again so Mikkel Jensen and Jens Petersen were declared the LMP3 winners of the 4 Hours of Silverstone. The #2 United Autosports Ligier of Wayne Boyd, Garret Grist and Tommy Erdos took the final podium place.
In LMGTE the #88 Proton Competition Porsche crossed the line to take a debut ELMS win for Thomas Preining, Gianluca Giraudi and Ricardo Sanchez, with the #83 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Michelle Gatting, Manuela Gostner and Rahel Frey taking their second podium finish of the 2019 season.