ELMS: Portugal plays host to a final round thriller


The final ELMS race of the year was a thriller with the Portugal weather playing its part in the outcome…

From PR materials


The first half

Once again the weather played a significant role in Portugal. After a dry start to the 4 Hours of Estoril, two rain showers deep into the second hour of the race caused Simon Dolan in the leading no38 JOTA Sport Gibson Nissan to spin off the track into the gravel at Turn 2, dropping the championship leader down to 7th. Two Full Course Yellow periods after heavy rainfalls soon had the field deciding which tyres to select as rain fell but blue skies could be seen on the horizon.

The race started with the no38 JOTA Sport Gibson of Filipe Albuquerque leading the 30 strong ELMS grid into the first corner.  Tracy Krohn in the no40 Krohn Racing Ligier started on the front row after the no41 Greaves Motorsport Gibson was put to the back of the LMP2 grid for improving under yellows in qualifying.  The American braked very late for the first corner and spun on the exit causing the cars following to drive around the green Ligier.

The no21 AF Racing BR01 of Viktor Shaytar started to move up the order and was soon challenging for the a podium position.  A quick pitstop put the Russian out in front in the first hour but Dolan in the JOTA Gibson soon caught and passed Shaytar’s BR01.  However the spin for Dolan promoted the Russian back to the front of the field, a place he was still holding as the clock hit 120 minutes.  Gary Hirsch was second in the no41 Greaves Gibson and was currently in the driving seat for the championship ahead of Pierre Thiriet in the no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05.

Charlie Robertson was holding the upperhand in the LMP3 class at 2-hours after holding off the challenge of Galetan Paletou in the no2 Team LNT Ginetta-Nissan.  The French driver was supposed to start from pole position but Michael Simpson had been judged to have improved under yellows in qualifying and they were put to the back of the LMP3 grid.

In LMGTE the JMW Motorsport Ferrari led the class for the entire first two hours as first Rory Butcher and then Robert Smith held the upperhand against the challenge of the no52 BMW Team MarcVDS BMW Z4 and the no99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.

The no77 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage of Euan Hankey moved to the front of the GTC field early on and the British driver circulated for most of the first two hours at the head of the field.  Championship leaders TDS Racing were in the mix for the lead of the GTC class and Dino Lunardi was at the head of the field as the second half of the race began.


Final half

A thrilling race in Portugal saw the no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca of Nicolas Lapierre take the chequered flag but it was the Greaves Motorsport team that was celebrating after Jon Lancaster brought the no41 Gibson Nissan home in second place to claim the 2015 European Le Mans Series Team and Driver titles.  The no38 JOTA Sport Gibson of Harry Tincknell finished 4th and the Championship leaders before the final race of the season saw the title slip away.

The LMGTE win went to the no52 BMW Team MarcVDS BMW, the Belgian team’s first win of 2015.  The title went to the no60 Formula Racing team with a 5th place finish for Mikkel Mac.

The GTC title was secured by the no59 TDS Racing BMW after Eric Dermont took the chequered flag in second place behind the no63 AF Corse Ferrari of Marco Cioci.

With the LMP3 title already secured by the no3 Team LNT Ginetta Nissan of Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson, it was fitting that their teammates Michael Simpson and Gaeltan Paletou took their first win of the year.