Sebastien Loeb Racing broke through to claim victory in Sunday’s Four Hours of Estoril, while Signatech-Alpine claimed the European Le Mans Series LMP2 championship following an action-packed season finale in Portugal.
Vincent Capillaire took the No. 24 Oreca 03 Nissan to a 35.399-second margin over the No. 43 NewBlood by Morand Racing Morgan-Judd of Christian Klien in second, to give the French squad top honors and become the fifth different winner in five rounds this year.
Capillaire shared the win with GP3 ace Jimmy Eriksson, in the Swede’s sports car debut.
“The team won this race so strongly because of hard work over the year. It has all been working to this point,” Capillaire said. “All of the guys were really efficient and it’s not only a driver win but a team win. My teammate Jimmy did a great job this weekend.”
Meanwhile, a fifth place result for Nelson Panciatici, Olivier Webb and Paul-Loup Chatin was enough to give the Alpine-backed squad both the drivers’ and teams’ championships for the second consecutive year, despite serving two pit lane penalties in the race.
Chatin appeared to be en route to victory until being handed a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for co-driver Webb spinning his tires while exiting the pit lane after serving the initial infraction.
The penalty, served in the final hour, set up a dramatic fight for the title, as the No. 38 Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN Nissan moved up the order, but only managed to finish third following two off-course excursions for Simon Dolan.
Filipe Albuquerque led early in the pole-sitting Jota machine, but contact between Dolan and a GTE-class Ferrari saw the margin evaporate and give the advantage to Chatin in the Signatech entry.
It was a big day for SMP Racing in the production-based ranks, as the Russian squad took home both the GTE and GTC championships, led by a class win for the No. 72 Ferrari F458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini, Viktor Shaitar and Sergey Zlobin.
It came following early race misfortunes for the No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari, which headed into the weekend as title favorites, but was hit by the No. 99 ART Grand Prix McLaren MP4-12c early on, resulting in extensive repairs.
While the Matt Griffin, Michele Rugolo and Duncan Cameron-driven entry returned to action, it was further delayed by two wheel nut problems, relegating them to a 12th place finish in the GTE class.
The No. 85 Gulf Racing UK Aston Martin Vantage GTE dominated the race but lost the lead in the final hour when Roald Goethe climbed aboard for his final stint.
Bertolini held off the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari of Marco Cioci for the class win, with the No. 66 JMW Motorsport entry making it a podium sweep of Prancing Horses.
Marc VDS Racing Team claimed GTC class honors in its series return, with the BMW Z4 GT3 of Bas Leinders, Markus Palttala and Henry Hassid outpacing the fleet of Ferraris in the GT3-based class.
Leinders finished one lap ahead of the No. 60 Formula Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Mikkel Mac to take the win, while third and fourth place finishes were enough for SMP to take championship honors in GTC as well.
RESULTS: Four Hours of Estoril