Kessel Racing’s 488 GTE took runner-up spot while Iron Lynx made it onto the lowest step of the rostrum in the GTE class as the European Le Mans Series got underway at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet, France.
Encouraging start. The four-hour race began in the best possible manner for the Kessel Racing team, who entrusted the opening stint to Michael Broniszewski at the wheel of the #74 Ferrari 488 GTE. The Polish driver was able to make a fine start to take command of the course right from a pole position which had been snatched yesterday by an extraordinary Nicola Cadei.
Some twenty-seven minutes into the race, a penalty forced Broniszewski into the pit lane, losing the lead in the process. The GTE class leadership thus was taken up by Duncan Cameron at the wheel of the #55 Spirit of Race-run Ferrari. After an hour, misfortune befell the British driver who was forced out due to a mechanical issue. The race then took on a new twist for Kessel who moved back into first position thanks to Nicola Cadei who in the meantime had taken over from Broniszewski. The Ferrari 488 GTE #74 held on to the lead until the 47th lap when Cadei succumbed to pressure from Alessio Picariello at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR entered by Proton Competition.
The duel was made all the more enthralling with the entrance of Sergio Pianezzola, in the #60 Ferrari courtesy of Iron Lynx. Pianezzola, having taken over the cockpit from Claudio Schiavoni on the 33rd lap, staged a comeback, moving the Ferrari into first place. Schiavoni’s return to the wheel coincided with a very taxing phase for the red machine, which dropped various positions down the order. Nevertheless, Andrea Piccini’s attempts to pull back resulted in a sixth final place for the squad.
Fine female effort. For the all-female Iron Lynx team, the race began in the best possible way with Michelle Gatting never dropped below fourth place until the 26th lap, eventually holding on to second place. On the 31st lap the Danish driver handed over to Manuela Gostner, while on the 52nd, Swiss driver Rahel Frey boarded to achieve third place which she maintained until the finish-line
Off the podium. Fourth for team JMW Motorsport’s #4 Ferrari. British driver Hunter Abbott kicked things off before swapping with Finlay Hutchinson on the 32nd lap. The latter, however, failed to capitalize on his colleague's advantage and slipped down the order from second to fourth place. On the 63rd lap, Abbott retook the wheel, but was, however, unable to retake the position at the front. On lap 87 the baton was handed on to Jody Fannin, who passed the chequered flag in fourth place.
Fifth final place for AF Corse. The team got off to a flying start with Steffen Görig who during the first thirty laps performed a fine race, managing to even occupy the top position. After dropping down to fifth, the driver handed over to team-mate Alexander West on the 56th lap. The Swede clawed his way back to third place, but after the change-over with Christoph Ulrich on the 89th lap, the team that hails from Piacenza, had to settle for fifth final place.
Next round. The second round of the European Le Mans Series championship is scheduled to take place in Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on August 9.