On 15th May forty-two cars will gather for the third running of the 4 Hours of Imola, round 2 of the 2016 European Le Mans Series. With fourteen LMP2, twenty LMP3 and eight LMGTE entries, there will be plenty of action on track for the ‘Tifosi’ to enjoy and for the many fans around the world to watch on TV or online.
No less than 13 drivers and 3 cars will be racing under the Italian flag at their home race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari and five of the eight LMGTE entries are wearing the Prancing Horse of Ferrari. In total there are 122 drivers and 42 cars representing 25 different nations from Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
The Anglo-Dutch driver line up of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Guido Van Der Garde head to Italy at the top of the points table after a hard fought victory for the no26 G-Drive Racing Gibson-Nissan at Silverstone. The Russian sponsored British based team beat off the challenge of the second Russian team, SMP Racing BR-01 of Stefano Coletti, Julian Leal Covelli and Andreas Wirth with the no22 SO24! By Lombard Racing in third.
The LMP2 grid features five different manufacturers amongst the 14 entries with 6 Ligiers, 5 Orecas and a single entry by BR01, Gibson and Morgan. Reigning champions Greaves Motorsport will be hoping for better fortunes in Italy, as will Thiriet by TDS Racing after taking pole position at Silverstone, the French team travelling to Italy as the 2015 winners of the 4 Hours of Imola.
This will be the last test for Sir Chris Hoy in the no25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier-Nissan before the six time Olympic gold medal winner fulfils his long held dream of racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month. Another sports star taking to the track is former French soccer world cup winner Fabien Barthez who takes part in his second Le Mans Prototype race in Italy for his Panis Barthez Competition team.
In LMP3 there are no less than 20 entries with plenty of racing talent ready to do battle on the twists and turns of the Imola circuit. Of special note is the all Italian Villorba Corse team, with Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Nicollo Schiro racing the Ligier JS P3-Nissan. In 2015 the team failed to finish their home race so they are hoping for better luck in 2016.
UK based American team United Autosports head to Italy with a famous 1-2 under their belts at Silverstone. Anglo-American trio Alex Brundle, Michael Guasch and Christian England will be looking to make it two from two, but they know they face stiff opposition from their own teammates as well as several other contenders on the LMP3 grid including French teams Graff and Duqueine Engineering and the all British 360 Racing who claimed the first P3 pole of the year on their home track.
The two Eurointernational Ligier-Nissans are racing under the Stars and Stripes but their five drivers are all Italian and all will be looking for a home advantage at Imola. Giorgio Mondini, Andrea Roda and Marco Jacoboni will be in the no11 car and Andrea Dromedari and Fabio Mancini will race the no12 Ligier with their third driver yet to be named.
The eight car LMGTE grid might be smaller than the two prototype grids ahead of them but the mouth watering battle between Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin is sure to be one that has everyone watching on Sunday afternoon.
Italian hopes will rest with the two AF Corse entries with the no51 Ferrari being driven by Italians Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini, assisted by Portugal’s fast man Rui Aguas. The no55 AF Corse F458 is the Anglo-Irish team of Duncan Cameron, Aaron Scott and Matt Griffin. Three other Italians are on the LMGTE grid with 2010 FIA GT1 World Champion Andrea Bertolini in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari alongside British drivers Rory Butcher and Robert Smith. The bright yellow Ferrari crossed the line in first place at Silverstone but was excluded after failing the post race technical checks for not being in compliance with the homologation papers. Watch out for the no66 Ferrari at Imola as the team attempts to put the car at the front once again.
Davide Rigon will be racing the no56 AT Racing Ferrari with father and son duo Alexander Talkanitsa Senior and Junior. Gianluca Roda will be in the no88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 alongside Klaus Bachler and Christian Ried.
The eventual LMGTE winners of the 4 Hours of Silverstone was the no99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall after finishing second on the road in England. The all British team will be looking to take the chequered flag in first place ahead of all their rivals in Italy.
The 4 Hours of Imola takes place at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari on the outskirt of the town that the race is named after. Made up of 9 right-hand and 12 left-hand corners, the 4.909 km Imola track is one of relatively few on which cars run anti-clockwise. It offers a very technical layout which is difficult to conquer, with complicated corners which require superior driving skills.
The 4 Hours of Imola will take place on Sunday 15 May, with qualifying on Saturday 14 May. Entry to the event is free for everyone, with just a small fee of 10€ to enter the paddock during the day. There is plenty of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy both on and off the track.
For all the information about the 4 Hours of Imola visit: www.europeanlemansseries.com