It was in pouring rain that the IDEC SPORT Oreca #28 took fourth place at the 2018 Spa-Francorchamps 4-Hour Race, not finishing with the chequered flag but a red one. The race had to be shortened because of the poor weather. The Ligier #27 was forced into the pits after a technical problem.
There are days when you prefer to stay indoors, but the race was on and the European Le Mans Series drivers took to a soaked track in Belgium for the Spa-Francorchamps 4-Hour Race, the fifth and penultimate meeting of the 2018 season.
Paul Lafargue was replaced at the last moment in the Oreca #28 by Gabriel Aubry. The WEC driver from the JACKIE CHAN DC RACING team joined Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas. In #27, the drivers were joined by Aurélien Panis (son of the former F1 driver, Olivier Panis) for his entrance into the LMP2 circuit.
By the time of the trail runs, the rain was pelting down on the 7.004 kms Belgian track. The whole of the IDEC SPORT team did their utmost to get the cars set up right for the race. Paul-Loup Chatin grabbed fourth place in the qualifiers. Aurélien Panis got the Ligier #27 into seventh place on the grid. With the weather forecasts announcing heavy rain, the race directors took the decision to start the race 75 minutes early.
The forty rivals set off at 10.45 a.m. behind the safety car. After fifteen minutes behind this car, the drivers were finally let free on the legendary Spa track. While the Oreca had to return to the pits with wheel problems, Aurélien Panis made his way back up the rankings with the Ligier and was back in eighth place. #28 rapidly set off again and Paul-Loup Chatin got back up through the pack in the driving rain. Conditions became harder and harder and several drivers made mistakes leading to a second period with the safety car. After just over half the race, there was no choice but to wave the red flag. The race ended after just two hours with the final results based on that. Paul-Loup Chatin, Memo Rojas and Gabriel Aubry finished in fourth place while the Ligier #27 ended up in 31st position after a long period in the pits.
Thanks to the great performance of the trio in #28, IDEC SPORT is now in third place in the overall rankings on equal points with the second-placed team. While G-Drive won the title in Spa, the final event of the season will determine who takes the two remaining places on the podium. We’ll see what happens on 28th October at the Portimão (Portugal) 4-Hour Race.