Matt Griffin’s title near miss

Matt Griffin left the Portuguese Autodromo do Estoril circuit last weekend ruing bad luck after narrowly missing out on the 2014 European Le Mans Series Championship.

The Irish GT racer finished 2nd in the championship along with teammate Duncan Cameron, despite coming into the final round of the championship with a healthy lead.

The weekend started out well for Griffin who was the reigning European Le Mans Series Champion, qualifying his number 55 AF Corse run Ferrari in 3rd position ahead of his nearest championship rival Andrea Bertolini of SMP Racing.

“We had a few small issues in practice, but by the time qualifying came we were in good shape, the car was fantastic and if it were not for a bit of traffic on my best lap I would have taken pole,” said Griffin. “I was happy with P3 though, especially as I was ahead of Andrea.”

However the happiness would soon evaporate as 20 minutes into the four hour race Cameron, who started the race, was hit from behind by another competitor causing heavy suspension damage and resulting in a long pit stop.

When the number 55 eventually returned 7 laps had already been lost and the team were out of the running for a good result.

“When Duncan had his contact it was evident that we were out of the running for the race,” reflected Griffin. “But I still held out hope that we could take the championship.”

With Griffin unable to finish in the top eight, attentions turned to the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari who had to win the race in order to claim the title.

In the end, the Irishman watched the Russian entered Ferrari 458 GTE take victory and the European Le Mans Series Championship, with Griffin and Cameron finishing 2nd as they agonizingly fell short by 3.5 points.

“After the incident it was hard to watch as the outcome of the championship was out of our control,” said Griffin. “I still held hope though as these races are hard to win.  In the end though some of the other competitors had issues and SMP had a clean race.”

Expanding further, Griffin reflected on a weekend that saw his one hand on the title slip away in the final race.

“Obviously I’m extremely disappointed,” he said. “We came to Estoril with a commanding lead and it was a case of what could go wrong did go wrong!  I think it’s fair to say we were the strongest car over the season, winning 3 times and setting 4 fastest laps, however in motorsport sometimes that’s not enough.”

The busy Ferrari driver now has two weeks at home before travelling to Barcelona for the final round of the International GT Open.