Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues took the first win of the season for the Signatech Alpine squad in the European Le Mans Series at the Hungaroring.
The French squad controlled the race from the early stages, when Ragues put in a dominant opening stint in slippery conditions. He took the lead from the Murphy Prototypes car of Jonathan Hirschi on lap four, and by the time he handed the car over to Panciatici after one hour and 48 minutes their lead was a minute and a half.
With the track mostly dry, Panciatici then had to spend the rest of the race managing the gap back to Brendon Hartley. The former Red Bull junior made back a lot of time for the Murphy squad to finish the race just 38s behind the winning car.
Third place went to the Jota Spot pairing of Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan. Turvey had been in the fight for second for much of his stint before handing over to Dolan, although he suffered a setback when his first attempt at passing Hirschi was scuppered by a left-rear puncture.
Dolan had no response to Hartley’s pace in the second half of the race, but he was able to bring the car home comfortably ahead of the SMP Racing entry of Maurizio Mediani (who made a bold lunge for the lead at the start) and Serguey Zlobin to complete the podium.
The other big story in the LMP2 ranks was the race to forget for the championship-leading Thiriet by TDS Racing lineup of Pierre Thiriet and Mathias Beche, which has left Thiriet sharing the championship lead with the race-winning Signatech pair heading into the season finale at Paul Ricard.
The car spent three minutes in the pits after getting into a scrape very early on, and it then lost more time as they gambled on an early switch to slicks before the track was ready for that. After a few more tangles Beche eventually got the car into sixth overall in the closing stages, just one place ahead of the GTE-winning No. 77 Porsche.
The Proton Competition car took the lead during Nick Tandy’s stint in the middle of the race, and a tidy final stint from Klaus Bachler was enough to bring home the victory with Christian Ried. Tandy assumed the lead when the No. 67 IMSA Matmut Performance Porsche of Jean-Karl Vernay was forced to serve a one-minute penalty for overtaking under yellow flags.
Second place in class went to Johnny Mowlem and Matt Griffin’s Ram Racing entry, who recovered from a lowly starting position and an unscheduled stop when Mowlem lost a wing mirror to grab a podium finish.
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. P2 Ragues/Panciatici Signatech Alpine-Nissan 2. P2 Hartley/Hirschi Murphy ORECA-Nissan +38.268s 3. P2 Dolan/Turvey Jota Zytek-Nissan +1 lap 4. P2 Mediani/Zlobin Oreca-Nissan +3 laps 5. P2 Gachnang/Klien Morand Morgan-Judd +4 laps 6. P2 Thiriet/Beche TDS ORECA-Nissan +5 laps 7. GTE Ried/Bachler/Tandy Proton Porsche +6 laps 8. PC Chatin/Hirsch Endurance FLM +6 laps 9. GTE Mowlem/Griffin Ram Ferrari +7 laps10. GTE Perazzini/Cioci/Leo AF Ferrari +7 laps11. GTE Perrodo/Collard Prospeed Porsche +8 laps12. GTE Milesi/Vernay IMSA Porsche +8 laps13. GTE Jeannette/Montecalvo Ram Ferrari +8 laps14. GTC Babini/Shaitar/Ladygin SMP Ferrari +9 laps15. GTC Markozov/Persiani/Frolov SMP Ferrari +9 laps16. P2 Hartshorne/Kapadia/Al-Mudhaf Boutsen ORECA-Nissan +9 laps17. GTC Rizzoli/Gai/Case AF Ferrari +9 laps18. GTC Rocca/Romanini/Mancini Easy Ferrari +11 laps19. PC Pons/Ayari Endurance FLM +20 laps20. GTC Millroy/McCaig/Twyman Ecosse BMW +22 laps21. GTE Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank AF Ferrari +26 laps22. GTE Bertolini/Camathias JMW Ferrari +31 laps23. PC Jones/Catsburg Endurance FLM +41 laps24. P2 Frey/Niederhauser Race Peformance ORECA-Judd +97 laps25. GTC Kox/Pronk/Retera Kox Lamborghini +99 laps