ELMS titles for G-Drive Racing and Aston Martin Racing after drama at Estoril
The 2016 European Le Mans Series ended today in dramatic fashion, with championship leaders in two classes losing their advantage, and eventually losing the titles, because of technical issues during the 4-hour race at Autodromo Fernanda Pires da Silva in Estoril.
Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde secure 2016 ELMS title for G-Drive Racing after the victory in the sixth round at Estoril today. The trio in the #38 Gibson 015S (Nissan) scored their second victory of the season and stole the title from three-time winners in the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Oreca 05 (Nissan).
Pierre Thiriet and Mathias Beche, partnered by Ryo Hirakawa, entered the race with comfortable lead of 14 points, but drama in the early phase of the race ruined their whole season. During the second pit stop, the #46 car failed to fired up due to some electrical issues. The team rejoined the race after the repairs but lost 24 laps. They finished 11th in the LMP2 classification, far from the fourth place which will secure the title.
Dragon Speed’s Nicolas Lapierre, Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley finished second with #21 Oreca, crossing the finish line 51 seconds behind the winners. SMP Racing’s #32 car, driven by Vitaly Petrov, Stefano Coletti and Andreas Wirth, finished third.
Even bigger drama happened to JMW Motorsport’s GTE class-leading crew in the #66 Ferrari 458 Italia. The car ended the second hour in the garage with mechanics working furiously after smoke and flames were seen from the back of the F458. Suspected gearbox issue has left the British team stranded for over 30 minutes. After Rob Smith came out from the pitlane to the track with repaired car, he was hit by Mike Guasch in the #2 United Autosports’ Ligier. Both drivers were OK but the race was suspended by the Safety Car.
After such a misfortune of JMW Motorsport’s crew, the only car which had a chance to capture the title was the #99 Aston Martin Vantage, driven by Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall. And they did it. The British trio won the race and took the ELMS title in the GTE class.
In the LMP3 class, Yann Ehrlacher, Thomas Laurent and Alexandre Cougnaud scored the first victory for M.Racing-YMR. The LMP3 title was earlier taken by United Autosports’ Alex Brundle, Christian England and Mike Guasch.