After visiting Portugal, France, Slovakia and Italy, the Ultimate Cup Series finally stopped in Spain for its fifth round, most precisely in Team Virage’s headquarters’ city in Valencia. For its first ever home race – like in Mugello – Virage aligned again three LMP3 on the grid.
While the #94 line up returned to its original configuration with 2nd placed Philippe Valenza alongside Julian Wagg and Thomas Padovani, the #95 saw some changes, with LMP2 driver Miro Konopka joining Monegasque Alain Costa. On the #96, the team decided to align a Norma driven by Mateusz Kaprzyk, Parth Ghorpade and ex-IndyLights racer Julien Falchero.
After using the free practices to get as much experience as possible, the 10 drivers got ready for Qualifying. While the #94 placed in a very positive 4th place, the #96 ended P6 and the #95 of Konopka/Costa ended in a great 7th place, its best qualifying session of the season.
The 4h race was supposed to be tough for men and mechanic, as temperatures over 30º hit Valencia’s track on Saturday afternoon. After close to one hour, the #94 had to pit for a mechanical issue on the rear right, forcing the team to work several minutes in the garage. In the meanwhile, the #95 and #96 were fighting in the top 8 before the first pitstops.
Things got more complicated after two hours. An engine issue causing a massive loss of power on the #96 damped all chances of podium for Kaprzyk/Ghorpade/Falchero, while the #95 lost two laps after a contact in Turn 8, forcing the race director to deploy a Full Course Yellow.
Back on track with Valenza at the wheel, the #94 showed excellent pace, the French-Spaniard being the second fastest man on track during his stint. On its side, the #95 was catching back the field, with Konopka/Costa setting excellent laptimes allowing them to climb back up to 6th place, again their overall best result of the season. This performance also meant they ended 2nd in the AM category and got up to the podium to collect their well-deserved champagne.
Team Virage’s next LMP3 race will take place in France, on the track of Magny-Cours, host of the French F1 Grand Prix between 1991 and 2008.