Last lap lunge cost AMR a class win at WEC opener

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Having run up until then a near faultless programme over the entire meeting, the V8 Vantage GTE Am class entry of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda cruelly had their deserved class win taken snatched from their grasps with an outrageously optimistic overtake attempt on the penultimate corner of the six hour opener.

Having posted the fastest GTE Am class times in two out of the three Free Practice sessions before going on to securing the class pole yesterday, all looked good for the Northwest squad leading into the event this afternoon.

Team Platinum driver Pedro Lamy would again start the race for the #98 on what was then a dry track following light rain overnight but with a distinct possibility of further significant rainfall at some point during the race.

During the opening laps of the race Lamy was challenged for the class lead from ex AMR GTE Am driver, Francesco Castellacci in his #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 but over five hours of racing left there was no need to panic and Lamy simply followed him around.

Indeed, as the first sprinklings of rain were being detected at the circuit, Lamy used all of his experience to outmanoeuvre Castellacci coming out of Luffield and onto the National Straight by allowing two overtaking LMP2's to box the #54.

At the first scheduled full service pit stop, an unfortunate mechanic was lucky not to hurt himself nor delay the car when he stumbled and fell in the pit lane whilst recovering a used wheel just taken from the car.

With Bronze driver, Paul Dalla Lana now at the wheel the #98 soon stretched their legs over the chasing Am field to attain a lead of over one minute which was just as well as he spun his car 360 degrees on the greasy track - no damage and the car was quickly able to continue.

The pattern of 'on the hour' pit stops continued to cycle through as Dalla Lana handed the car over to Mathias Lauda and who then handed back again to Dalla Lana but the cars overall lead was soon to diminished with a further Full Course Yellow that then lead into a Safety Car following an incident with an LMP1 with just under two hours remaining.

Further bands of light showery rain continued to pass over the Northamptonshire circuit, leading to periods of extreme caution out on track - two minute lap times soon went out to as much as two minutes and thirty seconds!

With just an hour remaining, Dalla Lana handed the car back to Pedro Lamy for the final leg to the flag. With the benefit of the Safety Car and due diligence on a fluctuating track from Lamy, Matt Griffin in the #61 Clearwater Ferrari was soon able to catch and pass Lamy for the class lead (albeit an undefended manoeuvre - all was not lost however as the #61 needed to pit again for a splash and dash.

Finishing the final lap after what already had been an eventful championship opener Lamy was coming into Stowe corner for the last time to claim what looked to be an obvious class win when the totally unexpected happened.

The #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari clearly thought that its second position in their first WEC event was no longer good enough and launch a wholly non viable overtake attempt the long way around of the #98, clipping the Aston in the process and launching both cars into a spin.

Narrowly missing the two spinning cars, Griffin's #61 Ferrari managed to squeeze his car through to claim a totally unexpected AM class win with a battered and bruised #98 thankfully being able to recover to cross the line to in second. The #54 Ferrari failed to finish and was not classified.

The next round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship is from the Spa Francorchamps circuit in just three weeks time - a race that is regularly used as a full dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24hr just a month later.

Photo credit (podium) - Adrenal Media

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