Thiriet by TDS Racing Team led yesterday’s European Le Mans Series (ELMS) race from the first pit stops to the chequered flag. The team had a trouble free race and both drivers maintained a good pace with which to clinch maximum points. Signatech Alpine finished second followed by Dunlop-shod Morand Racing.
Dunlop had a 1-2-3 result in qualifying with Jota’s Zytek-Nissan claiming pole. At the race start Murphy Prototypes’ Oreca-Nissan moved up from third to take second place from the TDS squad. The Murphy car ultimately suffered a mechanical issue that prevented it from finishing higher than sixth but showed the team’s strength by being the second fastest car on track.
Jota, the team with the fastest lap of the race, was looking strong but lost the lead after 50 minutes of the race when stopping for fuel. The team held second until 40 minutes before the end of the race when a spin into the gravel caused by avoiding a slower car ahead ended the team’s race.
Pace in both qualifying and during the race has improved significantly since the last visit to the track. The pole time set in 2011 would have only been enough to take eighth place on the grid and the fastest race lap in 2013 was a staggering 3.6 seconds quicker than that set two years earlier. The top three best lap times were set by Dunlop teams.
Morand Racing made the bottom step of the podium after a holding the position for a double stint but then dropping to fourth. When Greaves Motorsport, also on Dunlop tyres, was handed a penalty for a pit-lane limit infringement the Zytek-Nissan team handed second place to Signatech Alpine and allowed Morand Racing to cross the line in third.
In GTE, Dunlop’s sole runner started and finished in fourth place. Despite looking close to securing a podium finish, the JMW Motorsport team was denied a trophy but collected valuable championship points.
David Meenan, Senior Design Engineer:
“The race was much more straightforward than Silverstone where there was torrential rain that cut the race short. Other than a few drops that increased lap times for a few minutes it was very straightforward. The points scorers were the teams that were trouble free but TDS were strong throughout the weekend and deserved the win.
“I think for us the major success at Imola is the pace of the teams with the tyres this year and especially the consistency on double stinted tyres. Both Thiriet and Jota went on to put in fastest race laps on tyres that were nearly two-stints old. Pierre Thiriet and Mathias Beche drove well. The reigning champions deserve to be leading the championship.”