Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography
LM P3 - 12/12/2018 - Jeff CARTER
This season the German-Dutch duo Jens Petersen and Léonard Hoogenboom took three wins from seven starts in the team’s Norma M30-Nissan, with two further podiums at Le Mans and Spa to finish the season on 103 points, 11.5 ahead of the no79 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Norma of Scottish pairing Alasdair McCaig and Colin Noble.
DKR Engineering got the defence of their title off to a great start after Léonard Hoogenboom and Jens Petersen took the chequered flag in a hard fought victory at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The race started with the no39 Graff Norma of Eric Trouillet getting a good start from pole position to lead into the first turn but Tony Wells had made a better start from the second row and was challenging the leader into Turn 4. There was contact and the no39 Norma dropped down the field as Wells took the lead in the no2 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier with Léonard Hoogenboom in the no3 DKR Engineering Norma up to second by the end of the opening lap.
Wells went wide into Signes Corner allowing Hoogenboom to take the lead, with the no21 DB Autosport Norma of Nicolas Schatz into second.
Hoogenboom handed over the car to Jens Petersen, with Schatz handing over to Jacques Wolff, who rejoined in the lead of the race. Petersen was only 5 seconds behind and within two laps he had caught and passed Wolf for the lead.
Colin Noble, now at the wheel of the no79 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier, was over 50 seconds behind Wolff in third place and just ahead of the no2 Ecurie Ecosse Ligier, now with James Littlejohn behind the wheel. Wolff spun off at turn 5 with 15 minutes remaining on the clock. He held onto 3rd until four minutes before the chequered flag when Littlejohn claimed the final podium position.
Jens Petersen looked to be cruising to victory when disaster struck when the German spun off at Turn 1, the Norma hitting the tyre wall. Petersen restarted the car and rejoined the track just ahead of Noble. Petersen wrestled the car round the last few corners and took the chequered flag just 2.1 seconds ahead of Noble.
Léonard Hoogenboom and Jens Petersen took their second win of the season in Italy.
At the start, the no21 DB Autosports Ligier of Nicolas Schatz disappeared up the road at the head of the field. Schatz came down the pitlane in the leading no21 DB Autosport Ligier at the half way point of the race but incredibly the driver went straight down the pitlane on the orders of the team. As the car approached turn 1 it slowed and then stopped on the runoff area, out of fuel and out of the race.
Léonard Hoogenboom took over the no3 DKR Norma and was now in the lead of the race, just 1.2 seconds ahead of the no2 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier with James Littlejohn at the wheel.
A few minutes later a Full Course Yellow was declared as the no25 Lanan Racing Norma went off into the gravel at T11.
When the race went green again, Hoogenboom pulled away from the chasing pack of cars, with Littlejohn’s Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier 8 second behind. Job van Uitert in the no14 RLR MSport Ligier had also made good progress after the pitstop and was up to 3rd and slowly gaining ground on the second placed car.
As the clock counted down to the last lap, the no3 DKR Engineering Norma was cruising to the chequered flag, with Hoogenboom 19.8 seconds ahead of the no2 Ligier of James Littlejohn, and Job van Uitert finishing the race just 2.8 seconds behind the second placed car.
ROAD TO LE MANS
The pole position holder in the LMP3 and GT3 classes took victory in the opening 55-minute Road to Le Mans encounter with ELMS stalwarts Mikkel Jensen and Kay Van Berlo taking the chequered flag in the no11 Eurointernational Ligier JSP3-Nissan.
At the green flag, Mikkel Jensen in the LMP3 class no11 Eurointernational Ligier got away cleanly followed by Scott Andrews in the no9 Cool Racing Norma.
Out in front Jensen was being put under immense pressure from Australian Scott Andrews but the Dane kept his cool and headed in for the compulsory pitstops to hand over to Kay Van Berlo in the lead.
Van Berlo held the lead to take the chequered flag by 19 seconds from the hard charging Sean Rayhall in the no33 United Autosports Ligier, with the no3 DKR Engineering Norma of Léonard Hoogenboom taking the final podium position.
The 55-minute race on Saturday morning began on a dry track under light cloud and the no39 Graff Norma-Nissan of Eric Trouillet led the 50-car pack. The French driver spun at turn 2 with the no11 Eurointernational Ligier also going off from 3rd on the grid, allowing the no30 CD Sport Norma of Laurents Horr to go into the lead.
The Safety Car was deployed for 15 minutes to recover the damaged cars and when the race went green again the no30 CD Sport Norma pulled out a good gap to the no25 Lanan Racing Ligier of Michael Benham.
The mandatory pitstops started and Michael Benham was one of the first to enter the pitlane to hand over the car to Duncan Tappy. After the pitstops the no33 United Autosports Ligier of Sean Rayhall was out in front, with Tappy’s Ligier snapping at his heels, challenging for the lead.
On lap 10 Tappy got a run on the American into Mulsanne and swept into the lead.
At the chequered flag it was Duncan Tappy who took the chequered flag for Lanan Racing, just 0.699s ahead of the United Autosports Ligier of Sean Rayhall. The no21 DB Autosports Norma of Jacques Wolff and Nicolas Schatz were third, 11 seconds behind the leaders.
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