Mathias Beche crossed the line in theThiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan behind the Safety Car to win the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series at Italy’s historic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.
The #Mighty38 Gibson 015S Nissan of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde claimed second and the Dragonspeed Oreca 05 Nissan of Pole-sitter Nicolas Lapierre, Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman closed out the podium places in third.
Having started from second on the grid, Pierre Thitiet in the TDS immediately set to battle with Nicolas Lapierre’s DragonSpeed Oreca, and Paul-Loup Chatin in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P2 Nissan.
All three teams took their turn at the head of the pack during the first half of the race, but the #46 TDS Oreca took a lead they would not relinquish at the midway point.
After four Full Course Yellows (FCY) the race finished under the Safety Car following torrential rain 90 minutes from the end.
The race got off to an incident filled start almost immediately with the #18 M.Racing Ligier JS P3 in on the first lap with a puncture and the Greaves JS P2 in on the next lap following a mis-timed pass which punctured their left rear.
The first of the FCYs was posted just under 2 hours in when the Graff Racing #9 Ligier JS P3 went off at Turn 7. Two more followed in the next 40 minutes and a “wet race” was called at 16:55 allowing the teams free use of their wet/intermediate tyres.
The last FCY was to recover John Falb’s #10 Graff Ligier and due to the worsening conditions, the FCY remained in place until several cars struggled to keep up with the rest of the field and the safety car took over with 27 minutes of race time remaining.
“I really want to thank my mechanics,” said Beche, “It was a great race for us as we were so unlucky last time at Silverstone.
“It was a bit unfortunate for the public that it’s finishing under a safety car, but anyway, we had a really solid race and my team-mates did a brilliant job.”
In LMP3 United Autosports continued their Silverstone success with the #2 car of Alex Brundle, Mike Guasch and Christian England making it two-for-two so far this season.
The sister car led early in the race but a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane ended their chances.
Second spot went to Eurointernational’s all-Italian #11 car of Jacoboni, Roda and Mondini. The #16 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier rounded out the LMP3 podium.
In LM GTE, Proton Competition’s Pole-sitting #77 Porsche 911 RSR led the entire race finishing ahead of the entire LMP3 field, and an impressive 13th overall.
After disqualification in round 1, JMW Motorsport’s Ferrari 458 Italia finished second with AT Racing’s Ferrari rounding out the podium places. The Beechdean Aston Martin had a horrible race weekend qualifying dead last on the grid and, with a little good luck, a class fastest lap by Darren Turner (1:41.876; Lap 77, 173,5 Kmh) and a bit of bad the British team managed to claw back two places to finish 5th in class.