JOTA Sport finished on the podium for the second consecutive race in this year’s European Le Mans Series, as Simon Dolan, Filipe Albuquerque and Harry Tincknell drove their #38 Gibson 015s Nissan to third place in LMP2 and overall during Sunday’s 4 Hours of Imola.
Despite dominating last year’s race, JOTA couldn’t manage a race win in 2015, and came home 86 seconds behind the winning car, the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05. The British team looked set for a win until a pit stop mid-race for repairs cost them a lot of time.
Tincknell drove the #38 from the start and built up a lead of 20 seconds with just over half-an-hour completed, before a safety car removed his lead. With just over 1 hour gone, Tincknell had a lead of 42 seconds before handing the car over to Simon Dolan. Unfortunately, he collided with a Ferrari from a lower class which had continually ignored blue flags, damaging the Gibson’s nose. This contact forced Dolan over the kerb at Variante Alta, damaging the front left bodywork further. A pit stop to repair the damage cost the team dearly.
“I had an encounter with a GT class Ferrari,” explained Dolan. “He turned in on me, which damaged the front nose. He was taking no notice of the blue flags being waved at him to warn him I was trying to get past. It was an extremely disappointing way to be ruled out of fighting, for what looked for a long time, our first ELMS win of 2015.”
Dolan took the car for a double stint before Albuquerque drove the last 45 minutes. After a final pit stop, the car moved up from 4th into the final podium position. Although Albuquerque’s lap times were considerably faster than the leader, he didn’t have enough laps to close the gap and so, after a quick refuelling stop on the penultimate lap, he crossed the finish line in third.
JOTA Sport have had a fantastic start to the 2015 season, having previously finished the ELMS opener at Silverstone just 0.370 seconds behind the leader, and winning their Le Mans ‘practice’ WEC round at Spa-Francorchamps as the LMP2 winners. The next race for the team will be the most important race of the season, the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13/14. JOTA will be looking to repeat last year’s success and win the LMP2 class in France.
“We get back to our Frant base this week and immediately switch our attention to Le Mans,” said Sam Hignett of JOTA Group. “Our truck will get back to our workshop in Frant on Tuesday evening and then it must leave for France on the Thursday of the following week. In which time we will strip the Gibson down completely and rebuild it. So there isn’t a huge amount of time to turn everything around ready for the test day at the end of the month.”