Under the southern French sun, Thiriet by TDS Racing dominated the 4 Hours of Le Castellet this weekend. Starting from pole position set by Mathias Beche, Toyota LMP1 regular Mike Conway (on loan to the French team while regular driver Ryo Hirakawa was competing in the Super GT at Suzuka this weekend) diced with Nicolas Lapierre in the Dragonspeed Oreca and set the fastest lap of the race before handing over the #46 Oreca 05 Nissan to team owner Pierre Thiriet after 45 minutes.
“Everything went fine during my all stint.” said Conway after the race. “I managed the gap with the traffic and Nicolas (Lapierre) on my heels. It is a great job on track done by Pierre and Mathias with excellent stints.”
TDS Team Owner Xavier Combet added “We would like to thank Toyota Gazoo Racing for its trust this season by providing Ryo Hirakawa. To replace him this weekend, Toyota Gazoo Racing honoured us by suggesting Mike Conway, one of the best LM P1 drivers.
“Mike immediately fitted in the team, his expertise and his talent associated to Mathias and Pierre’s qualities, were a great boost for the team.”
Following Lapierre’s initial speed Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley were unable to match his pace and the Dragonspeed car began to slip down the order. Lapierre, back in the car for the final stint, managed to pass Tristan Gommendy in the #33 Eurasia Motorsport Oreca Nissan in the final moments to claim the final step of the podium.
Despite Pu Jun Jin’s carsh during Friday practice leaving him unable to race on Sunday, Eurasia Motorsport remaining driver team of Nico Pieter de Bruijn and Tristan Gommendy drove a steady race to take the team’s Oreca Nissan to fourth overall.
A little further down the table in ninth place we saw a welcome return to the ELMS of driver Jono Coleman who, having lost his drive following the bankruptcy of French Team So24!, moved to the cockpit of the #48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03R – Nissan.
After a poor qualifying run Harry Tincknell showed amazing pace in the ageing G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S Nissan during his opening double stint moving from ninth to second behind the TDS car. Sadly for the Anglo-Russian team Giedo van der Garde and Simon Dolan weren’t able to replicate Tincknell’s pace but managed a respectable fifth-place finish.
In LMP3, French team Graff Racing did what some were beginning to think impossible and beat Anglo-American team United Autosports #2 car to take a ‘home’ class win with Paul Petit, Eric Trouillet and Enzo Guibbert took the honours in their #9 Ligier JS P3 Nissan. The #19 Duqueine Engineering Ligier took second place and Championship leaders United Autosports finished out the podium with the #2 car of Brundle, Guasch and England. Again another race completed without the Ave-Riley LMP3 – with only two rounds remaining this season we wonder if it will surface at all …..?
Moving to GTE, Scottish team JMW Motorsport took the overall honours with their #66 Ferrari 458 Italia setting a winning time of 4:01:04.671, some 13 seconds ahead of second place Formula Racing’s #60 Ferrari 458 Italia. British trio Howard, Turner and MacDowell brought the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage home in a distant third place, some 19 seconds behind the Scottish Ferrari.
Full results can be found here.