European Le Mans Series

Graff peerless in Portimao as G-Drive takes LMP2 crown

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Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography/ELMS

Graff secured a second consecutive European Le Mans Series victory with its #40 squad, as the #22 G-Drive Racing team won the LMP2 championship at the 4 Hours of Portimão.

The #40 trio of Gustavo Yacaman, James Allen and Richard Bradley drove a measured race to get the French outfit into race-winning contention, before taking full advantage of a penalty awarded to the race-leading #32 United Autosports team, which saw its slim championship hopes dashed in the season finale.

Starting from ninth, a terrific start from Yacaman pulled the #40 Oreca firmly into contention, jumping into the top five on the opening lap.

The Colombian continued to display excellent pace, progressing through the pack and passing the leading #32 Ligier of Hugo de Sadeleer as the clock approached the hour mark.

De Sadeleer completed his stint with the #32 in the lead, although received a black and white flag for repeated track limits violations just before his time in the car was over.

After Will Owen took over the #32 Ligier, the United Autosports team was slapped with a 55-second stop-go penalty for continued track limits transgressions, returning the chasing #40 team to the lead.

Allen took advantage of the #32 team’s penalty to build an imposing lead, handing over to Bradley for the final stint to consolidate the victory.

The #32 fell to third after its penalty, but home favourite Filipe Albuquerque cleared the #27 SMP Racing Dallara in the final five minutes to grab second, leaving Egor Orudzhev and Matevos Isaakyan to accept the final podium position.

With United Autosports’ failure to win, the G-Drive Racing outfit took a second consecutive ELMS LMP2 title as a result of finishing fourth; a phenomenal opening stint from Léo Roussel put the DragonSpeed-run team into contention for the win, but indifferent runs from Memo Rojas and Ryo Hirakawa left the team settling for a championship-winning result.

The #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara was a contender in the early stages thanks to a terrific stint from Giorgio Sernagiotto, but the Italian team could not hang onto the coat-tails of the front-running teams.

Starting from pole, the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier could only manage sixth place – although Fabien Barthez made an excellent start, the former Manchester United goalkeeper lost the lead on the second lap before dropping the ball at the first restart, sliding down the order.

LMP3: United Autosports grabs title with one-two finish

The #3 United Autosports team produced a patient display to win at Portimao, while the sister #2 squad grabbed the LMP3 title after starting from the back of the field.

Wayne Boyd worked the #3 Ligier into contention after the first hour, battling with the pole-sitting #9 AT Racing for supremacy in the LMP3 category, in which Mikkel Jensen produced a superb opening stint.

Although Jensen had an advantage of a lap over the #3 at middle distance, a difficult stint for Alexander Talkanitsa Sr. resulted in the #9 team falling back, before its race hopes were ended following a drive-through penalty for violating track limits.

This thrust the #3 team into the lead and, although a late surge from John Falb in the #2 resulted in the two United Autosport cars getting too close for comfort, Christian England managed to hold on to grab victory for the #3.

Falb and Sean Rayhall collected second, after a brilliant drive from the duo made up for the #2 team’s qualifying woes, in which its one fast time was deleted for exceeding track limits.

Championship rival M.Racing-YMR and its #18 Ligier made slight contact with the #2 with an hour left, but finished third having been unable to match the pace of the two United Autosport cars all afternoon.

Duqueine Engineering’s #7 was the highest-placed Norma in the LMP3 field, beating the #6 360 Racing squad to fourth place.

LMGTE: JMW wins GTE class as Proton charges to win

Proton Competition took its first GTE class win of the year with its #77 Porsche, as JMW Motorsport’s #66 Ferrari team secured the class title.

Assuming the lead early on through Joel Camathias, who briefly lost the lead after contact with the #10 Oregon Team Norma, the #77 squad quickly returned to the front of the GTE field, fending off the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

After Christian Ried quickly disarmed a short-lived threat from the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim, the #77 Porsche stood firm out in front to seal a first win of the year for the German outfit.

JMW Motorsport settled for second to clinch the GTE crown, as Jody Fannin crossed the line just eight seconds behind the #77 Porsche.

The #55 team’s title aspirations were cruelly dashed after 73 laps, after an engine failure forced Aaron Scott to withdraw to the pits to retire.

TF Sport’s #90 had to finish ahead of the #66 JMW Ferrari to remain in the championship lead, but despite the team’s best efforts could only manage third place, two laps ahead of Beechdeen AMR’s #99 Vantage.

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