The 2018 European Le Mans Series LMP3 championship went down to the final round of the season, but ultimately the #15 RLR MSport Ligier trio of Job van Uitert, John Farano and Rob Garofall who were triumphant, despite finishing only fifth in the Four Hours of Portimao.
Across the six-race season there were five different winners, but the RLR MSport were the only team to double up, taking victories in the opening round at the Circuit Paul Ricard and then again at the Red Bull Ring.
Inter Europol Competition took the final victory in Portugal to ensure the gap at the end of the season was only 7.5 points, but the retirement of the #6 360 Racing Ligier and the failure of the #3 United Autosports Ligier to better seventh ensured fifth place was enough for RLR MSport to take the crown.
“It feels great to say we’re the 2018 European Le Mans Series LMP3 Champions,” said van Uitert on EuropeanLeMansSeries.com. “If you look at the whole season, it has been fantastic from every aspect.
“We achieved two wins and three podiums, the pace was always there or thereabouts and I’m happy with every one of my stints.”
Dutchman van Uitert says winning the title was ‘pretty special’ and the ‘biggest achievement’ of his career, but he admits he not expecting to challenge for the championship ahead of the year due to the depth of the competitiveness of the LMP3 field.
“To win the title is pretty special,” said van Uitert. “I wasn’t expecting it at the start of the year, looking at the strength and depth of the LMP3 field, but then the winning performance in the opening round at Circuit Paul Ricard made me realise that we had a shot.
“From there, the results kept coming, we pushed harder and ended the season with another strong fifth-place result in Portimao. This is the biggest achievement of my career to date.”
Canadian co-driver Farano admits it is surreal for the team to have taken the title in 2018 but he felt there was always something special within the team ever since the first test of the season back in February.
“I truly believed we had something special from the first test at the Portimao circuit in February,” said Farano. “I saw what RLR MSport was capable of and it’s incredible and so surreal to have actually won the European Le Mans Series title.
“It’s a very difficult championship to win. The competition is fierce, but they’re also the fairest competitors I’ve ever known. Driving standards are very high and that’s why I have decided to stay here for 2019.”
British racer Garofell believed that the team should have been a frontrunning outfit before the season begun but knew nothing was certain until they started racing, but he could not praise the whole RLR MSport outfit enough for what they achieved.
“To win the championship is what you always hope for when you first set off at the start of the year, so to cross the line and achieve it is huge,” said Garofell.
“I looked at the line-ups and thought we would be in among the frontrunners, but it’s such a long journey from the start of the first race to the end of the last and so much can happen, nothing is certain.
“I can’t give RLR MSport enough praise. Everybody has done a wonderful job.”