IDEC snatches ELMS title after G-Drive penalty
IDEC Sport snatched the European Le Mans Series title away from G-Drive Racing by winning the season finale at Portimao, as a penalty picked up by Job van Uitert cost the Russian squad dear.
G-Drive came to the season finale with a 13-point advantage, meaning the Aurus-branded Oreca of van Uitert, Roman Rusinov and Jean-Eric Vergne needed to finish third to be certain of defending the title earned by the TDS Racing-run outfit last year.
Van Uitert was in position to do just that with a little over a quarter of the four-hour contest remaining, but made contact with the IDEC Oreca of Memo Rojas while fighting for second.
Rojas was able to continue after a spin, and G-Drive was awarded a drive-through penalty which was served by Vergne after van Uitert handed over to the Formula E champion.
Notice of the penalty was given just after a safety car period triggered by a crash for Richard Bradley in the Duqueine Engineering Oreca, dropping Vergne down to eighth.
Meantime, Rojas had handed over the IDEC car to Paul-Loup Chatin, who passed Tristan Gommendy's Graff Oreca before challenging Phil Hanson in the United Autosports Oreca that had commanded much of the race to this point.
With 34 minutes to go, Chatin passed Hanson to put IDEC in a title-winning position, and went on to resist late pressure from Hanson to seal victory for himself, Rojas and Paul Lafargue by just half a second - their second victory of the year.
Vergne, who was faced with the near-impossible task of recovering to third place to rescue the title for G-Drive, finished sixth, giving IDEC the title by four points.
Hanson took second in the #22 United Oreca he shared with Filipe Albuquerque, while Jonathan Hirschi, Gommendy and Alexandre Cognaud completed the podium spots in the Graff Oreca, which cemented third overall in the standings.
The race had been disrupted at the start by a collision involving no fewer than six cars, triggered when Jack Manchester spun the Carlin Dallara P217 at the uphill Turn 4 left-hander and was collected by two LMP3 cars and three GTEs.
Manchester and Christian England, who ploughed into the stricken Dallara at barely-abated speed at the wheel of the #3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3, were both taken to hospital, with the race being suspended for nearly an hour.
LMP3 title honours went to Inter Europol Competition as Nigel Moore and Martin Hippe finished second in class in their Ligier, having come into the race tied for points with Eurointernational pair Mikkel Jensen and Jens Petersen, who finished seventh.
360 Racing took a first class victory of the year courtesy of James Dayson, Ross Kaiser and Terrence Woodward.
Luzich Racing had already wrapped up the GTE championship last time out at Spa, and Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Fabien Lavergne capped off the Swiss squad's season with a fourth victory in six races in their Ferrari 488 GTE.
UPDATE: Inter Europol Competition lost the LMP3 title with a post-race penalty that dropped Moore and Hippe to the bottom of their class, because bronze-rated Hippe had not fulfilled his minimum drive time.
It means Eurointernational takes the prize instead, with Jensen and Petersen promoted to sixth as a result of their rivals' misfortune.
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