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European Le Mans Series

Algarve Pro “On Massive High” After Paul Ricard Podium

Floersch, Viscaal reflect on second-placed finish in opening round of the season at Paul Ricard…

Photo: MPS Agency

Algarve Pro Racing scored an LMP2 podium finish in the European Le Mans Series on Sunday, finishing second overall only behind winners Prema in a result that left driver Sophia Floersch “on a massive high.”

Floersch, along with sports car racing debutant Bent Viscaal, took the Portuguese squad’s second consecutive podium finish in the ELMS after it finished in third place during last year’s Portimao season finale.

The team started the race from tenth overall, but found itself in the top-five after Floersch’s opening stint.

A key moment in the team’s podium run came when the team brought the German in to hand over to Viscaal with roughly 48 minutes remaining on the clock, which left the Dutchman with a lead of some 25 seconds over the Prema car of Louis Deletraz.

After Viscaal stopped for a late fuel stop, he held off a chasing Panis Racing car driven by compatriot Job van Uitert to finish in second place.

The result comes after a period of uncertainty for the operation after its presence on the grid was thrown into doubt when a planned program with G-Drive Racing fell through as a result of sanctions placed on Russian teams and drivers in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Viscaal and Floersch were also the only two-driver squad in the 17-car LMP2 field at Paul Ricard.

For Floersch, it was her second podium finish out of two starts with the Stewart Cox-led team.

“I’m on a massive high right now!” Floersch said. “I can’t quite believe we’ve reached the podium in two consecutive races, especially when just racing here in Le Castellet is a win in itself.

“We worked really hard to prepare in official testing and kept believing in ourselves, but going from tenth to second with only a short gap to the eventual race winner is simply amazing, and more than we could have ever expected.”

Floersch also made history during the race, becoming the first woman to finish second overall in the European Le Mans Series.

It is a second landmark for the 21-year-old after already becoming the first ever female outright podium finisher in the championship at Portimao last year.

“I’m the first woman to stand on the second step of the overall ELMS podium and breaking those sort of records is really nice, and it’s fantastic to achieve this as two Silver-graded drivers against three-driver line-ups that include Golds and Platinums,” she continued.

“I’m hopeful Bent and I can carry this form forward into the next round at Imola.

“Algarve Pro Racing’s mechanics worked perfectly in the pits and the strategy was on point, and this podium gives us the push we all needed.

“It’s the result of a real team effort, and it proves what we can do if we keep our heads down.”

For Viscaal, it notably marks a podium finish in his debut outing behind the wheel of the Oreca 07 Gibson.

Over the last two years, the Dutchman raced in Formula 3 and Formula 2 before making the switch to endurance racing following his exit from single seater operation Trident at the end of last year.

“I had to acclimatize to lots of new things, including power steering, traction control and traffic management, but I handled it all well and know there’s much more to come from my side,” Viscaal said.

“Sophia and I are a great pairing, as there’s nothing between our stint averages.

“It makes things far easier for us all and creates multiple opportunities in the races, so I’m looking forward to building on this performance at Imola.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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