Panis Racing and Cool Racing sparkle in Spa!
FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, September 24th - TotalEnergies-backed teams produced another fine display at Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), the fifth and penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series season.
In dry, sunny conditions, the party started in qualifying, where pole position went to Cool Racing’s no. 37 Oreca 07, driven by Charles Milesi, Nicolas Lapierre and Alexandre Coigny’s new team-mate. The festivities would continue in the race, as Panis Racing (Julien Canal – Will Stevens – James Allen) scored a superb third place, building on their recent win in Monza and their podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, despite encountering a bit of drama right at the end. Whilst fighting for a top-three spot in his no. 65 Oreca 07, James Allen clashed with another competitor, forcing his team-mate Will Stevens to produce a mammoth final stint to grab the last place on the podium. Panis Racing finished just ahead of Cool Racing, who took fourth overall and won the LMP2 Pro-Am class thanks to their three drivers, Nicolas Lapierre, Alexandre Coigny and Charles Milesi. Cool Racing added gloss to their weekend performance with second place in the LMP3 class with the no. 19 Ligier JS P320 driven by Nicolas Maulini, Matthew Bell and Niklas Kruetten. The result moves them one step closer to the title, despite the pressure put on them by their title rivals, who won this weekend.
A fact that is a source of great satisfaction for Nicolas Lapierre, driver and team boss: “It was a fantastic weekend for us and we did really well in the all the championships in which we are competing. Charles had a very good debut, securing pole position and putting in some excellent stints. We’re very pleased that he has joined the team. We were on course to claim an outright podium but the Full Course Yellow didn't really help matters. We are nonetheless delighted to take the class win in Pro-Am. The no. 19 crew also had a great race with second place and another podium. They still lead the championship standings heading into the final round of the season and I hope we’ll be able to win the title. Our Ligier JS P320 should be more suited to the Portimao track, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get a very good result and win the title.” Lastly, spectators at Spa were able to get another glimpse of the Mission H24 hydrogen fuel cell electric prototype, on which TotalEnergies is a major partner through the development of a mobile refuelling station. Driven by Stéphane Richelmi, one of its test drivers, the car took part in the official free practice sessions for the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
Following their win in Monza (Italy), Panis Racing’s podium in Belgium proved to be an excellent result for the standings. Olivier Panis’ team is now right behind G-Drive Racing in the fight for second place in the championship. The situation is the same in the drivers’ standings. The season’s final meeting at the 4 Hours of Portimao (23-24 October) promises to be hotly contested! It will also be a decisive weekend for Cool Racing, who now hold second position in the teams’ and drivers’ Pro-Am standings thanks to their first win of the season and who also lead both standings in the LMP3 class.