JOTA Sport completed the Italian job yesterday, with the trio of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Filipe Albuquerque claiming the British team’s first win of the 2014 European Le Mans Series.
The team, who were waved away at the start by Tincknell’s mentor and FIA World Endurance Championship champion Allan McNish, lead the race from pole after qualifying, with Albuquerque putting the #38 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan on pole, but it was Tinknell who lead the way, making his ELMS debut after not getting a chance to drive at Silverstone.
After pulling out a three second lead with no dramas, Tinknell pitted at the 45 minute mark of the race, handing over to the fully fit Dolan, with the lead remaining at the three second mark after the cycle of stops.
Despite having handling issues with the Zytek, Dolan stayed in the car until just under two and half hours to go, after which he pitted for a full service, handing over to factory Audi driver Albuquerque, who went on to set fastest lap after fastest lap, moving the #38 from fifth to first in the process.
Then came a 13 minute safety car period for debris, with Albuquerque coming back in to hand the wheel back to Team Owner Dolan who at the point was still leading, but the bronze rated driver couldn’t hold back the challenge of Christen Klien, with the ex-Formula One driver passing the Monaco-based Briton with 40 minutes to go.
But the race wasn’t over yet, with Klien’s #43 Newblood by Morand Racing Morgan-Judd slowing with four minutes to go, allowing Dolan to forge ahead, eventually taking the chequered flag by 28 seconds.
With the victory now in the bag, JOTA head to Le Mans for the official test day second in the ELMS standings on 27 points, with the trio joint second in the drivers’ standings, also on 27 points.
“I’m so happy with this victory,” said Dolan, who was awarded the unofficial “Spirit of the Race” award from Radio Le Mans. “My first stint after taking over from Harry was dreadful. The combination of an incorrect tyre choice and possibly me not performing to my best caused me to lose out in traffic which dropped me from first to fifth.
“When I got back into the Zytek for the final stints, our fuel-saving strategy was paying off until the Safety Car came out. Then it was a case of going as fast I possibly could. Klien overtook me but I managed to stay with him and I don’t mind admitting I was overjoyed to see him slow in front of me!”