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European Le Mans Series

Albuquerque, Hanson Claim Second Straight Victory

Filipe Albuquerque leads Ligier 1-2-3; RLR and Proton seal class titles…

Photo: MPS Agency

Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson took their second consecutive European Le Mans Series victory in Sunday’s season finale at Algarve International Circuit.

After winning the rain-shortened race at Spa, the United Autosports pair triumphed in the 4 Hours of Portimao following a tense lead battle between the top four LMP2 cars.

Albuquerque, driving the No. 22 Ligier JS P217 Gibson, resisted a late charge from Will Stevens in the No. 23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier to win by half a second.

Stevens, who shared driving duties with Julien Canal and Timothe Buret, rose from fourth to second in the final stint after getting past Will Owen in the sister United car and Andrea Pizzitola in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.

The Brit then drew out a gap to incumbent champion Pizzitola, who needed to finish more than 10 seconds ahead of Owen to secure third after his G-Drive co-driver Jean-Eric Vergne picked up a time penalty.

Vergne was penalized for running off the road to pass a GTE car at the height of a thrilling battle for the lead between the reigning Formula E champion and the two United Ligiers.

However, Pizzitola only managed to beat Owen by 9.4 seconds, putting both United cars on the podium and ensuring a first-ever 1-2-3 for the Ligier chassis.

ORECA machinery finished fifth to eighth, with Racing Engineering rounding out the top-five ahead of IDEC Sport and the two Graff-run cars.

The pole-sitting Duqueine Engineering Oreca that led the opening stint in the hands of Pierre Ragues had its victory challenge dismantled by a suspension problem.

Cetilar Villorba Corse’s Dallara P217 Gibson also controlled part of the race after Felipe Nasr charged through the top 10 to the front, but the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion lost ground when he was handed a drive-through for a near-miss with a GTE car.

The highest-finishing Dallara was the High-Class Racing entry in ninth.

RLR MSport Clinches LMP3 Title

John Farano, Job van Uitert and Rob Garofall were crowned European LMP3 champions after finishing fifth in class.

The RLR MSport Ligier JPS3 Nissan led the early stages of the race but had its victory charge thwarted by a final-hour safety car period.

Victory instead went to the Inter Europol Competition Ligier driven by Martin Hippe, Jakub Smiechowski and Luca Demarchi, while RLR’s closest rivals at 360 Racing failed to finish after their Ligier suffered a gearbox problem.

In GTE, third place was enough for Giorgio and Gianluca Roda to be declared category champions with their No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR also driven by Matteo Cairoli.

Although the rival JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE finished ahead in second, the swing of three points wasn’t enough to unseat the Roda father-son pairing from the top of the standings.

Victory in class went to the other Proton Porsche crew of Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Dennis Olsen for the first time this season.

RESULTS: 4H Portimao

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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