Alex Kapadia wins from pole in first Masters Endurance Legends race

Alex Kapadia converted pole position into a win in the Masters Endurance Legends race of the weekend at Imola. The ORECA-Nissan 03 P2 driver came back to pass Steve Tandy’s Lola-Mazda B12/60 with two laps to go, having dropped behind the P1 car after the pitstops.

A thrilling battle for third place was ended in favour of Gareth Evans who used his Creation-AIM P1 machine to overtake Keith Frieser’s ORECA-GM FLM09 for the final podium spot while Travis Engen ran the pair close in his Audi R8 P1.

The ORECA 03s of Michel Frey and Ralph Meichtry were in hot pursuit of Kapadia up until the pitstops – the three drivers with previous Le Mans experience driving away from the opposition led by Tandy’s Lola. At the halfway mark it all fell apart for both Swiss drivers, as Frey was handed a 15-second stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact with the Venturi LM600 of Gérard Bouvet and Christian Perrier. Having done his regular pitstop, Frey returned to serve his penalty but didn’t bother to go back out again. Meanwhile, Meichtry pulled into the pits on lap 16, his race over.

Due to the various handicaps in pitstop times, Kapadia dropped behind Tandy during the pitstop phase and was now faced with closing an 11-second gap. The ORECA driver took five laps to be back snapping at the Lola-Mazda’s gearbox and made the pass on lap 20. On the same lap, Evans swooped past Frieser for third. Setting his fastest personal time right at the end, Engen was also looking for a way past Frieser but the Canadian managed to stay ahead of the American.

In relatively lonely races, Mike Newton (Lola-MG EX257) and Darius Ahrabian (Lotus-Lola P2 Coupé) were sixth and seventh.

In his Aston Martin DBR9, Nikolaus Ditting sealed GT honours when the Antonio Fuoco/Yoshiki Ohmura Ferrari 458 GTE suffered gearbox problems. As the rest of Ditting’s opposition also faltered – his lead rival Dominik Roschmann in the second DBR9 getting a drivethrough penalty – Ditting’s life was made easy in the second part of the race, the German taking eighth overall.

Sadly, Bob Berridge’s Peugeot 908 was a non-starter.