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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Soufi makes amends after red-flag crash in opener

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Saturday’s first-ever race within the open class for LMP3 and comparable vehicles might have been a brief and soggy affair, nevertheless it was not with out its share of drama. On Sunday, nevertheless, the second of the 2 scheduled enduros did go all the best way. And it culminated in a three-abreast second because the leaders raced down the pitstraight with minutes to go.

Race 1

On Saturday, the prototypes had been the unluckiest of the three classes in motion at Estoril. The afternoon produced a short spell of British-style heavy rain – and it hit simply because the PWS race was getting going.

Additionally out of luck had been Kevin Rabin and the ANS Motorsport staff. Rabin, aged simply 16, was on the wheel of the lone Nova NP02 automobile taking up the LMP3 equipment in Portugal. And he was main the race when the crimson flag flew after simply two accomplished laps.

However the motive for the stoppage was an accident between the 2 main drivers. Danny Soufi (Konrad Motorsport Ligier) was working an in depth second behind Sandro Holzem (Rinaldi Racing Ligier) when he hit an enormous pool of water as he braked for Flip 1. The American couldn’t catch the ensuing spin, by no means thoughts discover a method to decelerate. He pirouetted into the again of Holzem, who had led the early going from pole place.

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With each vehicles broken and caught within the gravel lure, Rabin inherited the lead for a couple of candy moments. However given the cleanup job and the circumstances, a crimson flag was inevitable. And the outcomes, in fact, are declared on the finish of the earlier lap, that means Holzem was the winner regardless of being beached.

Soufi was demoted for inflicting the crimson flag, that means Rabin may a minimum of rejoice second place. And if anybody may rely themselves fortunate, it was Holzem. It’s not typically you continue to get the win while you’ve been punted off the highway – and half factors for 2 laps’ work can be a uncommon deal with in motorsport.

Photograph: Gedlich Racing

Tom Van Rompuy, DKR Engineering, Duqueine

Race 2

Soufi may take revenge on Sunday, because the second enduro race lasted the complete 50 minutes. So it was the primary alternative to see how the handicap system, the place obligatory pitstop instances differ based mostly on the rider’s qualities, would work.

It was nonetheless raining and its depth diversified all through the race, however the circumstances by no means got here near the day prior to this’s degree. What additionally made Soufi’s activity simpler was the absence of Rinaldi Racing’s automobile. The Ligier couldn’t get away for the warm-up lap and was pushed off pole place after its rear axle broke on its method to the grid. This was because of harm from the day prior to this’s accident.

Soufi put in a constant race en path to victory. Daniel Keilwitz (in Rinaldi’s different Ligier) and Laurents Horr (DKR Engineering Duqueine) stayed inside capturing distance till the pitstops, with 5 seconds between the trio when the pit window opened. The system meant Soufi needed to keep within the pits longer as a solo ‘silver’ driver – to not point out a battery downside that price him a couple of further seconds. However his ‘gold’ rivals handed over the wheel to slower ‘bronze’ team-mates and that made all of the distinction. 

Soufi made up for the 29-second deficit he had accrued after the stops by passing Tom van Rompuy (DKR) and Steve Parrow (Rinaldi) in a single go because the trio raced down the straight with about seven minutes left on the clock. Van Rompuy may nonetheless have had a declare to victory had he not misplaced a couple of seconds with a spin in Flip 4, shortly after taking on the automobile. And sadly for the Belgian, he is not going to get the possibility to attempt to make up for the error subsequent weekend in Portimao. Van Rompuy had been known as up at Estoril last-minute as a alternative for Jon Brownson, who suffered an damage throughout testing earlier this week.

Fourth behind the vehicles of Konrad, DKR and Rinaldi was Rabin, who was impressively regular within the changeable climate however lacked the tempo to match the main trio over a full race distance.

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