– Proton Porsche performance denies Ferrari an Italian win
The European Le Mans Series (ELMS) four hours of Imola began in bright sunshine but rain ultimately curtailed racing in the final hour of the race. Dunlop’s LMP2 teams fought hard against the competition and were rewarded with the top five places. Thiriet by TDS took the flag in the Oreca-Nissan while G-Drive Racing (Gibson-Nissan) finished in second place, extending their lead in the series.
Dragonspeed Racing (Oreca-Nissan) took third place after a strong race following a pole position start. The pace was strong with times significantly reduced since last year, the best lap of the race set by Dragonspeed’s Nicolas Lapierre (1:34.799), nearly two seconds faster than 2015’s fastest race lap of 1:36.650.
Although the rain fell heavily and essentially ended on-track overtaking, pit-stops to change to wet tyres altered the order for some teams. The leader in LMGTE, as for LMP2, however remained unchanged and the number 77 Porsche of Proton Competition took the class victory after a dominant race. JMW Motorsport (Ferrari 458 Italia) took their first points of the season for second place while AT Racing, also Ferrari, claimed third and increased their lead in the standings.
During the three hours of dry racing, the LMP2 teams used both available compounds (soft and medium) with some opting to double stint the tyres. The LM GTE class teams all opted for the medium dry-weather option, again with teams able to double-stint the rubber. The rain, initially on just part of the track, saw some teams switch to the intermediate option but the following widespread downpour led to all teams opting for full wet tyres for the final hour. The full-course yellow and safety car periods in response to the sudden rain and difficult conditions prevented any further overtaking, however.
Mike McGregor, Dunlop Manager Testing & Track Support: « It was really good for Porsche to get the win here after Aston Martin took the first round at Silverstone. We’ve had very positive feedback from teams and drivers about the tyre performance. Similarly it’s great that Thiriet by TDS Racing won with both classes showing that no-one is running away with the title. We need to give a big thanks to all our teams again for a good weekend of racing. The next race for us and many of our ELMS and World Endurance Championship teams is Le Mans the big one! We will be supporting the testing that some teams are opting to carry out in preparation for the epic 24 hour race. »