The European Le Mans Series held their second race of the 2018 season at Italian Monza, where it was 4 hours with loads of action.
The race was started under slightly cloudy skies, but it would stay dry throughout the race. There had been a bit of rain Saturday morning, but otherwise it was hot all weekend long. The race started in 21 degrees, but would go up to about 25 during the 4 hours.
The 44 car field was held for a long time, before the lights finally went green.
G-Drive Racing #26 grabbed second place going towards Turn 1, but Roman Rusinov was soon under pressure from the Duqueine Engineering #29.
While those two were fighting, Ben Hanley in the DragonSpeed #21 could get a jump, and already had a 3,5 seconds gap after two laps.
The M.Racing – YMR #19 already pitted after their first lap, since they had been hit by another car. All while that happened, Ultimate #17 was out in front, ahead of DKR Engineering #8 and EuroInternational #11.
Proton Competition Porsche #88 had grabbed the GTE lead ahead of the Pole car from Ebimotors Porsche #80, while JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 already was in third. Roda in the #88 however made a mistake, so both #80 and #66 could go past.
Cool Racing #4 had a trip through the gravel between the two Lesmo corners, and rejoined right in front of the GTE battle. That slowed down the Ebimotors Porsche #80 so much, that the JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 went to take the lead.
Proton Competition Porsche #88 was spun around by BHK Motorsport #16 in the first chicane, but was quickly back on track again.
Graff Racing #39 went off the track in Lesmo 2, and ended up on the top of the tire barrier. Luckily Alexandre Cougnaud was okay, but the car was out of the race.
That sent out the Safety Car, so the tire barrier could be reformed, and get the car removed.
Several of the teams used that opportunity to get into the pits and get refueled and changed the driver.
It took about 20 minutes before the race was underway again, and there was action right from the get go.
High Class Racing #49 with Dennis Andersen and Anders Fjordbach was all the way up in 5th, and started attacking IDEC Sport #28 in P4. They did eventually make it past, by a nice outbraking manoeuvre by Fjordbach.
DKR Engineering #8, Oregon Team #10 and Inter Europol Competition #14 had jumped the start, so they received a drive-through penalty.
After only 10 minutes of racing, the Safety Car was back out again, since Graff #40 had crashed a the third chicane. Thankfully Enzo Guibbert was able to climb out of the car by himself, but the car was out on the spot.
So both Graff cars were out of the race even before 45 minutes of the race had been completed.
Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 had a crash during the Safety Car, where Christian Stubbe Olsen ended up in the armco, after possible contact with another car. He did manage to get the cars back to the pits, and after the mechanics changed the front of the car, he was good to go.
Duqueine Engineering #29 led the race, ahead of AVF by Adrian Valles #30 and Cetilar Villorba Corse #47, while 360 Racing #6 had grabbed the LMP3 lead in front of M.Racing – YMR #18 and Ultimate #17. In GTE, Spirit of Race #55 was leading ahead of Proton Competition Porsche #77 and #88.
Racing for Poland #20 had a trip off the circuit in Turn 1, when Ultimate #17 pushed them onto the grass. The stewards decided not to hand out a penalty, since #20 was one lap down and should had realized that the overtaking had been done, and then just leave room for the other car.
DragonSpeed #21 and M.Racing – YMR #18 had a bit of contact in the third chicane, which sent #18 into a full 360 spin, before he could continue. The stewards opted to hand Henrik Hedman in #21 a drive-through penalty for the collision.
With just over 90 minutes of racing done, the United Autosports #2 made it to the front of the LMP3 field, when EuroInternational #11 made a small mistake at Lesmo 2, making it possible for #2 to pass.
Racing for Poland #20 LMP3 was in the spotlight again, when he was tooling around on the racing line, and was then hit by Proton Competition Porsche #88. #20 tired to get going again, but then ended up being stuck in the gravel in Turn 8. So a Full Course Yellow was needed. The stewards gave #88 a drive through for the contact.
DKR Engineering #8 hit the armco hard during FCY, with the front suspension breaking off at the contact. The exact reason for the accident wasn’t clear.
FCY turned into being Safety Car, since a truck needed to get onto the track to recover #8.
The race was restarted with 2 hours left to go. The G-Drive Racing #26 was now leading LMP2 ahead of Duqueine Engineering #29 and APR- Rebellion Racing #31. In LMP3 the United Autosports #2 was ahead of EuroInternational #11 and Ultimate #17, while Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 lead GTE ahead of Proton Competition #77 and #88.
But it didn’t last long before the Safety Car was back on track, when a multiple car pile-up happened at Lesmo 2.M.Racing – YMR #18 ran a bit wide, making it run slower, when it came back on the track. He was hit by the BHK Motorsport #16, sending #18 into a spin, and eventually got hit by AT Racing #9. JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 just managed to avoid the other two cars, by running through the gravel.
Luckily all drivers were okay, even though both #9 and #18 had big damage.
The race was restarted with the two United Autosports #22 and #32 leading the G-Drive Racing #26. #32 quickly fell behind #26.
Then we had a flush of penalties.
RLR MSport #15 had been speeding up in the pitlane, so they were handed a 35 seconds Stop & Go penalty.
APR – Rebellion Racing #31 had started an overtake too soon following one of the Safety Car period, so they were handed a drive-through too. A bit of shame for the team, who had been in the fight for a podium position.
High Class Racing #49 had a trip through the gravel in the third chicane, all by itself, but did manage to get back on the track again.
Ultimate #17 had to pit and get repairs done to the rear end, since the legality panel had fallen off after contact with another car.
By the start of the final hour we had G-Drive Racing #26 continuing to lead the LMP2 category, with United Autosports #22 and TDS Racing #33 in the following positions. Inter Europol Competition #13 was on top of the LMP3 runners with EuroInternational #11 and United Autosports #2 as the next runners. In GTE it was Spirit of Race #55 still in the lead with Proton Competition Porsche #77 and Ebimotors Porsche #80 second and third. But there was pitstops happening at that time, so it wasn’t guaranteed to be a clear picture.
There was close racing but no real position changes at the front of the field.
United Autosports #22 got a drive-through penalty, because Filipe Albuerquerque had a brush with Cool Racing #4 during an overtaking manoeuvre. That sent them out of the fight for a top 5.
But there was drama 10 minutes prior to the chequered flag when United Autosports #2 received a puncture in the worst possible post, so John Falb had to go two thirds of the lap on three wheels only. That handed over the lead to EuroInternational #11 while Euro Interpol Competition #13 was right behind.
When the chequered flag flew after 4 hours of racing, it was G-Drive Racing #26 with Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola which won ahead of TDS Racing #33 and IDEC Sport #28.
In LMP3 the EuroInternational #11 with Giorgio Mondini and Kay van Berlo won ahead of 360 Racing #6 and United Autosports #3. Inter Europol Competition #13 was on the road to second, but had to pit on the very final lap of the race for fuel and finished 4th.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 with Dane Cameron, Matt Griffin and Andrew Scott won in the GTE category ahead of Proton Competition Porsche #77 and Ebimotors Porsche #80.
ORECA dominated LMP2, where the first 6 cars were from the French manufacturer, while Ligier took 7th with the Panis Barthez Competition #23. Cetilar Villorba Corse #47 was the best Dallara team on their home circuit in P9.
It was the opposite picture in LMP3 – here it was Ligier taking the first 6 positions, before Norma was 7th and 8th.
JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 leads the GTE Championship standings, ahead of Ebimotors Porsche #80 and Proton Competition #88. EuroInternational #11 leads LMP3 ahead of 360 Racing #6 and RLR MSport #15. G-Drive Racing #26 has the LMP2 lead ahead of TDS Racing #33 and Racing Engineering #24.
The ELMS teams have a bit of a summer holiday until 22 of July, where the third round will be run at Red Bull Ring. But there will be quite a few of the teams going to Le Mans in June, so it won’t be that relaxing for those teams.