Former Caterham Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde won on his sportscar racing debut in the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone.
The Dutchman, who took the Sauber F1 team to court ahead of 2015 and sat out last season after reaching a settlement with the Swiss team, was part of a dominant victory for the Jota Sport-run G-Drive Gibson-Nissan squad.
Teammate Harry Tincknell surged from fourth to lead on the opening lap, aided by polesitter Pierre Thiriet going off at Abbey in his TDS Racing ORECA 05. After completing the first two stints in the lead, Tincknell pitted to hand over to Simon Dolan with an advantage of almost 20 seconds over the Ligier of Paul Loup Chatin. But a full-course yellow, caused by Nissan-backed Chris Hoy spinning his Algarve Pro Racing Ligier into the Chapel gravel trap, allowed Chatin to stop while Dolan was circulating slowly and for the car to emerge in the lead by 30s.
This meant 1998 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabian Barthez, who owns the Panis Barthez Competition team with 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis, led on his step up to the LMP2 class.
When the track went green with two-and-a-quarter hours of the four-hour race remaining, Barthez was 30s clear. But Dolan reeled him in and took the lead with a move up the inside into Stowe half-an-hour later.
The G-Drive Jota car was never again threatened, with Dolan handing the car over after his double stint to allow van der Garde to close out victory by over a minute and a half. Barthez was set to finish second, only for the Liger to slow at Stowe with just over 45 minutes remaining with Timothe Buret at the wheel and crawl back to the pits.
With the Greaves Motorsport Ligier already having had to visit the garage while running third after hitting gear-selection trouble, this allowed the SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 to take second with Andreas Wirth, Julian Leal and Stefano Coletti at the wheel. The Lombard Racing Ligier of Jonathan Coleman, Vincent Capillaire and Oliver Lombard took the final podium position.
The United Autosports Ligier team finished first and second in LMP3, with Alex Brundle, Mike Guasch and Christian England leading home the sister car of Mark Patterson, Matt Bell and Wayne Boyd.
GTE victory went to the JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia of Robert Smith, Andrea Bertolini and Rory Butcher.
RESULTS – 118 LAPS:
|1||S.Dolan, H.Tincknell, G.van der Garde||G-Drive Racing||Gibson/Nissan||4h01m45.391s|
|2||S.Coletti, J.Leal, A.Wirth||SMP Racing||BR Engineering/Nissan||1m35.052s|
|3||V.Capillaire, O.Lombard, J.Coleman||So24 ! By Lombard Racing||Ligier/Judd||1 Lap|
|4||T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, B.Wirdheim||Krohn Racing||Ligier/Nissan||1 Lap|
|5||S.Gelael, M.Evans, A.Giovinazzi||SMP Racing||BR Engineering/Nissan||1 Lap|
|6||N.Leutwiler, J.Winslow, F.Mailleux||Race Performance||ORECA/Nissan||2 Laps|
|7||P.Lafargue, P.Lafargue, D.Enjalbert||Idec Sport Racing||Ligier/Judd||2 Laps|
|8||M.Rojas, J.Canal, K.Giermaziak||Greaves Motorsport||Ligier/Nissan||3 Laps|
|9||F.Barthez, T.Buret, P-L.Chatin||Panis Barthez Competition||Ligier/Nissan||4 Laps|
|10||M.Munemann, C.Hoy, P.Ghorpade||Algarve Pro Racing||Ligier/Nissan||4 Laps|
|11||A.Brundle, M.Guasch, C.England||United Autosports||Ligier/Nissan||5 Laps|
|12||M.Patterson, M.Bell, W.Boyd||United Autosports||Ligier/Nissan||6 Laps|
|13||E.Trouillet, P.Petit, E.Guibbert||Graff||Ligier/Nissan||6 Laps|
|14||D.Hallyday, D.Lunardi||Duqueine Engineering||Ligier/Nissan||6 Laps|
|15||D.Faulkner, S.Balfe, S.Doyle||Murphy Prototypes||ORECA/Nissan||6 Laps|
|16||T.Woodward, R.Kaiser, J.Swift||360 Racing||Ligier/Nissan||7 Laps|
|17||M.Marateotto, G.Maggi, B.Longin||Race Performance||Ligier/Nissan||8 Laps|
|18||R.Smith, R.Butcher, A.Bertolini||JMW Motorsport||Ferrari||8 Laps|
|19||E.Debard, V.Moineault, S.Gachet||Panis Barthez Competition||Ligier/Nissan||8 Laps|
|20||M.Dons, O.Yusuf||RLR msport||Ligier/Nissan||9 Laps|
|21||A.Howard, D.Turner, A.MacDowall||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin||9 Laps|
|22||R.Goethe, S.Hall, R.Stanaway||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin||9 Laps|
|23||A.Talkanitsa, A.Talkanitsa Jr., A.P.Guidi||AT Racing||Ferrari||9 Laps|
|24||J.Nicolet, P.Nicolet||Oak Racing||Ligier/Nissan||10 Laps|
|25||D.Cameron, M.Griffin, A.Scott||AF Corse||Ferrari||10 Laps|
|26||R.Iannetta, M.Pialat, E.Clement||Duqueine Engineering||Ligier/Nissan||10 Laps|
|27||J.Laursen, M.Mac, C.Nielsen||Formula Racing||Ferrari||10 Laps|
|28||G.Roda, R.Lietz, C.Ried||Proton Competition||Porsche||10 Laps|
|29||P.Perazzini, M.Cioci, R.Aguas||AF Corse||Ferrari||10 Laps|
|30||J-B.Lahaye, F.Heriau, M.Lahaye||Ultimate||Ligier/Nissan||11 Laps|
|31||M.Hedlund, W.Henzler, M.Seefried||Proton Competition||Porsche||11 Laps|
|32||F.Sausset, C.Tinseau, J-B.Bouvet||SRT41 By Oak Racing||Morgan/Nissan||12 Laps|
|33||J-M.Merlin, E.Maris||Oak Racing||Ligier/Nissan||13 Laps|
|34||J.Falb, S.Rayhall, E.Potolicchio||Graff||Ligier/Nissan||17 Laps|
|–||J.Smiechowski, J.Petersen||Inter Europol Competition||Ligier/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||G.Mondini, A.Roda, M.Jacoboni||EuroInternational||Ligier/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||I.Taittinger, R.Striebig, L.Roussel||Pegasus Racing||Morgan/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||H.Hedman, N.Lapierre, B.Hanley||DragonSpeed||ORECA/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||M.Cullen, T.Ave, A.Reid||Murphyp3-3Dimensional.Com||Ginetta/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||L.Thomas, Y.Ehrlacher, A.Cougnaud||M.Racing – Ymr||Ligier/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||T.Jackson, A.Fontes, J.Fuster||By Speed Factory||Ligier/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, N.Schiro||Villorba Corse||Ligier/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||P.Jun Jin, N.de Bruijn, T.Gommendy||Eurasia Motorsport||ORECA/Nissan||Retirement|
|–||P.Thiriet, M.Beche, R.Hirakawa||Thiriet by TDS Racing||ORECA/Nissan||Retirement|