The ELMS championship visited Spa-Francorchamps for the 4th round of the season.
Friday morning saw the first free practice session (P4 at the end). The second session ran on Saturday but was partly aborted for the French team following a crash, requiring all the skill of the mechanics to get the car back on track for the end of the session (P5).
Sixth on the grid thanks to the effort of Job Van Uitert, the #65 Oreca started the race in the hands of Manuel Maldonado. Going into the first corner, he made a mistake and hit three cars. The car was badly damaged and had to return to the box to change the front bodywork and a wheel. Unfortunately, he was given a 1-minute stop & go penalty. Manuel then regained many places before handing the car over to Tijmen Van Der Helm. The latter soon found himself into a safety car period, with 2 hours of racing remaining. The Dutchman then went through a series of Full Course Yellow and another safety car period ... The cars were still under safety car when Job Van Uitert returned to the track for the remaining 70 minutes. At the restart, Panis Racing was 4th in class. He fought as hard as usuaI despite the damage on the car.
The safety car was back on track with 36 minutes to go, after a final refuel followed by another full-course yellow with 5 minutes to go! Not a straightforward race, but nothing was left on the table at the end with a second place in the class.
Florent Gouin - Technical Director: "After a very promising start of the week during the testing days, and despite an off-track on Saturday and a disappointing qualifying session where we deserved much better, we were confident with our race pace. Unfortunately, Manuel misjudged his braking at the start and hit three of his rivals. As a team, we are truly sorry for them. Manuel was able to restart, and after that, it was just about damage limitation. All three drivers performed well despite a damaged flat-bottom hindering the balance of the car. The pitstops were well managed by the mechanics and staff. A special mention goes to Job at the end of the race, who managed to keep up with the fastest cars. We were able to take advantage of all the interruptions during the race to recover and to come back within a lap of the leader. Finishing in the second position in our class was not reachable after the 1st lap incident. We are proud of such a "remontada", thanks to our mechanics who managed to get the car back on track in a record time on Saturday. Currently P3 in the LMP2. standings, we still have a chance of winning the championship, despite the 20-point gap to the leader, thanks to the double header at Portimao. Nothing's decided yet, and we're going to do everything we can to finish on a high note!"