The no25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca-Gibson scored a second win of the 2023 season with Kyffin Simpson, James Allen and Alex Lynn standing on the top step of the Spa-Francorchamps podium at the end of a race that saw five Safety Cars and three Full Course Yellows
The no37 COOL Racing Oreca took the LMP2 Pro/Am victory, with Malthe Jakobsen taking the chequered flag in 2nd overall, less than two seconds behind Alex Lynn at the end of the four-hour race. The no83 AF Corse and no34 Racing Team Turkey Orecas were battling for the minor podium places, with Alessio Rovera getting ahead of Louis Delétraz to put the AF Corse Oreca second in class and third overall. However two post race time penalties saw the no34 Oreca being classified ahead of the no83 Oreca (Stewards decision no45) and (Stewards decision no46).
COOL Racing also celebrated their second win of the weekend in LMP3 when Marcos Siebert crossed the line at the head of the LMP3 field in the no17 Ligier-Nissan. This gave Siebert, Adrien Chila and Alejandro Garcia an almost unassailable lead of 46 points in the championship standings, with 52 available in the final two races in Portugal next month.
The LMGTE win was secured by the no16 Proton Competition Porsche with Belgian driver Alessio Picariello taking the chequered flag for his first ELMS win at his home track just 0.5 second ahead of the no60 Iron Lynx Porsche driven by Matteo Cairoli. However, the winning car was given a 10-second penalty for not respecting the speed under Full Course Yellow and accelerated too soon, which promoted the no60 Porsche into first place (Stewards decision no47).
The 40-car field hurtled into the first corner at La Source led by Kyffin Simpson in the no25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca. Behind Simpson there was a cloud of tyre smoke as the no65 Panis Racing Oreca of Manuel Maldonado come down the inside at speed, missing the turn in for Turn 1 and hitting the no30 Duqueine Team and no28 IDEC Sport Orecas, with all three cars plus the no22 United Autosports Oreca ending up in the gravel trap.
The no31 Racing Spirit of Léman Ligier of Jacques Wolff also went off, hitting the back of the United Autosports Oreca. All bar the no31 Ligier managed to get going again and recover to the pits but with the Ligier stranded and debris littering the track the Safety Car was deployed after less than two minutes of racing.
After 20 minutes behind the Safety Car, the race went green with the no65 Panis Racing being given a 1-minute Stop and Go penalty for causing the accident at the first corner.
Kyffin Simpson started to pull away from the chasing pack led by the no43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca of Rui Andrade, with the no47 COOL Racing Oreca of Vladislav Lomko in third.
Salih Yoluç had also built a comfortable gap to his nearest rival at the restart with the no34 Racing Team Turkey Oreca, lying in 4th overall and ten seconds ahead of the no24 Nielsen Racing Oreca of Rodrigo Sales, the American under pressure from Tom Van Rompuy in the no3 DKR Engineering Oreca. The Belgian driver made his move on the Kemmel Straight, taking the place at Les Combes.
The LMP3 leader was the no11 Eurointernational Ligier with Matthew Richard Bell was also building a comfortable lead in LMP3 as the no17 COOL Racing Ligier of Adrien Chila and the no35 Ultimate Ligier of Eric Trouillet were fighting for second place, with Trouillet eventual gaining the position around the outside at Les Combes.
In LMGTE Ryan Hardwick was still in the lead in the no16 Porsche but was being challenged by Jens Moller in the no44 GMB Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage, who in turn had the no72 TF Sport Aston Martin of Arnold Robin in close contact.
At the top of the first hour, a Full Course Yellow was shown when Daniel Schneider went off track in the no21 United Autosports Oreca at T11 after being hit by the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier. The marshals worked quickly, and the debris was cleared in three minutes as Schneider went back to the pits for repairs.
Kyffin Simpson was still leading by 10 seconds in the no25 Oreca but further down the grid the no72 Aston Martin went off track at T1, with Robin re-joining 6th in class, which allow the no60 Iron Lynx Porsche of Claudio Schiavoni to move up to second, six second behind Hardwicks Proton Competition Porsche.
There was a clash between the no22 United Autosports Oreca of Marino Sato and the no47 COOL Racing Oreca of Vladislav Lomko, with Lomko’s car spinning round and dropping to 5th. Sato was given a drive through penalty for the incident.
The no99 Proton Competition Oreca was the next casualty with Gianmaria Bruni’s car stopping in the pit entry. The Italian was helped back to the pits by the marshals but only into retirement.
There was a titanic battle between the no24 Nielsen Racing Oreca of Mathias Beche and the no3 DKR Engineering Oreca of Nathanaël Berthon for third in LMP2 Pro/Am. Beche and Berthon were side by side for several laps before the no24 Oreca gained the place.
The no93 Proton Competition Porsche of Michael Fassbender was having a good run but it came to an end when the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari hit the Irish-German actor’s car at T1, causing Fassbender to go back to the pits.
The second Safety Car was deployed a couple of minutes later when the no66 JMW Ferrari of Martin Berry went off into the barriers at the top of Raidillon. Berry tried to get the car back to the pits but was forced to pull to the side of the track after Turn 9 before he could return the car to the waiting mechanics.
The race resumed again with the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier leading LMP3 but was served a drive through for causing the earlier accident with the no21 United Autosports Oreca. This put the no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Adam Ali back into the class lead.
With 90-minutes remaining the third Safety Car was deployed after the no10 Eurointernational Ligier of Glenn Van Berlo went off into the barriers at T14 after running wide into the gravel and spearing across the track. The repairs to the barriers took 35-minutes and racing resumed with less than an hour on clock.
The lead was now held by the no37 COOL Racing Oreca of Malthe Jakobsen, the Dane a couple of seconds ahead of the no25 Oreca, with Alex Lynn now at the wheel. Ben Hanley was leading the LMP2 Pro/Am class in third overall with Matthieu Vaxiviere and Louis Delétraz battling 4th place overall in then no83 and no34 Orecas.
Another Safety Car was deployed when Ben Hanley went off into the barriers at Turn 15. The front runners had spotted the issue and decided to pit before the Safety Car was deployed, which closed the pits. With 22 minutes left on the clock, the race went green.
The no47 COOL Racing Oreca of Reshad De Gerus was leading from the no81 Dragonspeed USA Oreca of Sebastian Montoya and the no3 DKR Engineering Oreca of Sebastian Alvarez, however these three cars had not stopped when the others had and would need to stop before the end of the race.
The fifth and final Safety Car was deployed with 18-minutes on the clock when the no43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca of Jonathan Aberdein went off in the same place as Ben Hanley’s Nielsen Racing Oreca earlier.
The marshals once again worked quickly, and the race went back to green with 10-minutes left. The three cars in the lead of the race went into the pits for their stop, with Alex Lynn taking the lead in the no25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca.
However, the drama wasn’t over when the no35 Ultimate Ligier went off track bringing out a Full Course Yellow for four minutes which meant there was a two-minute sprint to the chequered flag.
The LMGTE battle ensued between the no16 Proton Competition Porsche of Alessio Picariello and the no60 Iron Lynx Porsche driven by Matteo Cairoli. The two cars went head-to-head to the chequered flag with Picariello holding on to take the win.
The lead in LMP3 had been held for most of the race by the no17 COOL Racing Ligier with Marcos Siebert bringing the car home to claim his third win from four races.
Malthe Jakobsen was lying 2nd overall in the no37 COOL Racing Oreca but leading the Pro/Am battle. The Dane finished the race to claim the first win of the year, finishing just 1.811s behind the no25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of Alex Lynn, who claimed the LMP2 victory.
POST RACE PENALTIES
The no16 Proton Competition Porsche was given a 10-second penalty for not respecting the speed under Full Course Yellow and accelerated too soon(Stewards decision no47). This dropped the no16 Porsche to 3rd in LMGTE and promoted the no60 Iron Lynx Porsche into first place and the no50 Formula Racing Ferrari into second place.
The no83 AF Corse Oreca-Gibson was given a 4-second time penalty for not respecting the speed under Full Course Yellow and accelerated too soon (Stewards decision no46).
The no34 Racing Team Turkey Oreca-Gibson was given a 2-second time penalty for not respecting the speed under Full Course Yellow and accelerated too soon (Stewards decision no45).
The result of these two penalties means Racing Team Turkey is classified 2nd in LMP2 Pro/Am and AF Corse is classified 4th behind the no21 United Autosports USA Oreca which finishes 3rd in Pro/Am and 4th overall.