G-Drive Racing has claimed the European Le Mans Series LMP2 championship with a victory, and issues for the Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan in Sunday’s drama-filled season-ending Four Hours of Estoril.
Harry Tincknell took the Jota Sport-run squad’s No. 38 Gibson 015S Nissan to a 51.157-second victory over the No. 21 DragonSpeed Oreca 05 Nissan of Nicolas Lapierre, in a dominant run for the Englishman and co-drivers Giedo van der Garde and Simon Dolan.
Having headed into the race with a 14-point deficit to Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet, the Russian-backed squad benefited from electrical issues for the TDS Oreca in the second hour, which cost the them more than 20 laps in the garage.
It marked the first ELMS title for both G-Drive and the Jota squad, in the final outing for its “Mighty 38” open-top LMP2 car.
The TDS entry, meanwhile, finished 30th overall and ninth in class, losing the championship yet again in the final race.
A late charge by pole-sitter Lapierre and co-driver Ben Hanley saw the DragonSpeed squad finish second in the race, after two incidents by Henrik Hedman early in the race that put the American team one lap behind.
The No. 32 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan finished third, after contact with Olivier Pla’s No. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan while battling for the the final podium position with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Pla lost more than 45 seconds during the car’s second-to-final stop, due to a suspected mechanical issue, which took the Greaves Motorsport-run team out of contention for the win after a strong early run by co-driver Nic Jonsson, who had pitted from second.
The GTE championship was also turned upside down, with Beechdean AMR snatching the title with a class win, following issues for the JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia early in the race.
The No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Andrew Howard and AMR factory drivers Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall took a one-lap win over the No. 56 AT Racing Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi.
The Beechdean trio needed to win the race in order to surpass JMW in points.
The JMW entry of Rory Butcher, Rob Smith and Andrea Bertolini, which only needed to finish seventh or higher to take the title, retired in the third hour after gearbox issues and a freak accident involving the LMP3 championship-winning No. 2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 of Mike Guasch.
The accident brought out the race’s only safety car period, despite both cars eventually getting back to the pits under its own power.
M.Racing – YMR took top class honors in LMP3, with its No. 18 Ligier of Thomas Laurent, Yann Ehrlacher and Alexandre Cougnaud, its first of the season.
It came after a dominant run for the Yvan Mueller-owned squad, which took a two-lap victory over the No. 3 United Autosports Ligier and the No. 9 Graff Racing Ligier, which completed the class podium.
RESULTS: 4H Estoril