Spa ELMS: G-Drive seals title, United wins truncated race

United Autosports secured victory in a red-flagged 4 Hours of Spa ELMS event, as the #26 G-Drive crew clinched the LMP2 drivers’ title despite a nightmare race.

The winning #22 United Ligier was started by Phil Hanson from second position when the race began after a safety car start, but the Brit struggled in the slippery conditions early on and slipped to the lower reaches of the top 10.

Hanson then pitted to hand over to teammate Filipe Albuquerque shortly before the second safety car period, the Portuguese racer cycling to the front of the field following pit-tops for the early leaders.

He continued to lead until the red flag was waved just after the two-hour mark, the race eventually abandoned after conditions failed to improve.

The #26 G-Drive machine secured the LMP2 drivers title despite a horror race in which the #26 Oreca was involved in several incidents throughout the event.

Andrea Pizzitola was lucky to escape from the Campus gravel trap after he ran wide on two consecutive laps while under pressure, dropping to ninth as a result and soon handing the car over to teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.   

Worse was to come however, as Vergne forced the #77 Proton Porsche off the road on the approach to the Bus Stop chicane while battling with Ryan Cullen in the #31 APR-Rebellion machine.

The Porsche spun across the grass and collided with Cullen as it rejoined the circuit, both cars forced into the pits for repairs as a result.

Vergne received a two-minute stop/go penalty for the incident, but was unable to take the penalty before the red flag, therefore meaning the car finished a lap down and out of the point’s positions.

However, because only half points were awarded and chief rivals Racing Engineering could only manage to come home seventh, Pizzitola and Roman Rusinov become 2018 ELMS LMP2 champions.

Vergne was not crowned champion, having missed the season opener at Paul Ricard due to a Formula E clash.

The #21 DragonSpeed Oreca secured the runner-up position in tge race, with the podium being rounded out by the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier.

United Autosports also took victory in LMP3, the John Falb/Scott Andrews-piloted car leading the field at the red flag ahead of the championship-leading #15 RLR MSport machine.

Fabio Babini  won the GTE class for the #80 Ebimotors Porsche by virtue of not having pitted before the red flag, with the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari in second.

The #88 Proton Porsche led the way shortly before the final safety car, but pitted early while the both the #80 and #55 did not. Both the LMP3 and GTE titles will go down to the final round at Portimao in a month’s time.  

Report by Kyle Francis

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