Jota Sport will be looking to seal its first ever European Le Mans Series title this weekend when the championship moves on to its final round at Portugal’s Estoril circuit.
The British team currently leads the LMP2 standings after a string of four consecutive podium finishes, but the revision of the result at Paul Ricard in September means that Greaves Motorsport is just a point in arrears, while Thiriet by TDS Racing lies 10 points adrift.
Therefore, Harry Tincknell, Simon Dolan and local hero Filipe Albuquerque will be hoping to shut out the opposition with a clean run at the head of the field in order to win the elusive ELMS title.
The 2.6 mile Estoril track is generally suited to the performance of the Gibson 015S Nissan, unlike Paul Ricard which lent itself more to the low downforce configurations of the closed cockpit prototypes. Despite the expectation of a struggle for straight line speed at the French circuit, Harry Tincknell set the fastest lap in qualifying – an indication that the Gibsons will be pushing for a front row start this weekend as well.
“Estoril is where I’ve been looking forward to most on the ELMS calendar,” said Tincknell. “It should be a really strong track for the Gibson. The car ran well there in 2014 and we finished on the podium despite a few incidents in the race. I qualified on ‘pole’ by half a second last year and I just love Estoril’s track characteristics.”
“A race win would earn me the ELMS title in my own country and that would be a dream” added Albuquerque. “JOTA has great momentum in the team and us drivers. Nearing the end of a second season together, we really know each other well. The Estoril track is very tricky to overtake on and there is no room for mistakes without getting punished.”
“I can’t wait to go to Estoril and to have this great championship finale. The track suits us very well. To be racing in front of my home crowd is always special.”
Last year Estoril made its first appearance on the modern ELMS calendar, and proved to be an immediate hit for Jota Sport. In 2014 Jota took pole position but finished the race third after braking issues lost the car time, which ultimately handed the championship to Signatech Alpine.
This time, however, Simon Dolan’s team will be a firm favourite to take the race spoils after a number of impressive performances. Undoubtedly the third and second place finishes in the ELMS standings the previous two years will provide much of the emotional charge for what will be one of the team’s most important races yet.
“Estoril is a very strong track for the Gibson, and as a track it takes some beating,” said Dolan. “We will be absolutely flat out for the win to ensure we bring home the championship – nothing is going to stop us this year!”
The 4 Hours of Estoril takes place this Sunday, October 18, at 13:00.