Saturday, 17 October 2015

3 titles still up for grabs in Estoril this weekend.

We're in for a fascinating weekend of racing in Estoril.  With only the LMP3 championship decided after the last race at Paul Ricard, all other classes face an intense battle to crown the 2015 ELMS champions.  The weather will be pretty unpredictable for Sunday too, adding up to the tension on and off track.  

Jota Sport almost seemed to have their title secured last month, untill it became clear Felipe Albuquerque exceeded his driving time.  Result : a 45 second penalty, from first to third place and the lead in the championship reduced to just one point ahead of the #41 Greaves Motorsport. If Greaves takes pole position tomorrow, both Gibson/Nissans will start the race equal on points.  With 26 points to gain on Sunday, the #46 French Thiriet by TDS crew is also still in contention for the title. They're only 10 points behind the leader in the championship and could have a shot to win the title on Sunday if they manage to win the race, and both other teams finish in third place or lower. AF racing might have the key in their hands to determine who wins the championship; the BR01 has proven itself very competitive in the past races with 2 podium finishes. Chances are high both Russian cars will mingle inbetween the title contenders.  Also, let's not forget the other teams in LMP2; Eurasia has been in the mix at the beginning of the past 2 races, Tracy Krohn's Ligier has been very consistent and would love to end the season with a podium spot, Murphy's men didn't have luck on their side this season but have proven to be very fast and Algarve Pro Racing is driving on their home track.  Either way, we're in for a mouthwatering fight in LMP2 over the weekend.  

Charlie Robertson and Chris Hoy secured the first ever LMP3 title last month at Paul Ricard. Behind them, the battle for second and third in the championship will go between the 3 other Ginetta's. SVK by Speed Factory (#15) has the best cards in hand at the moment with a 5 point advantage over the #5 Villorba Corse.  Graff enters the first Ligier JS P3/Nissan in the ELMS, which will be interesting to see how it compares to the Ginetta's. Considering the amount of LMP3 cars that alteady have been sold, and the interest of several (new) teams to enter the ELMS next season, this is going to be a class to watch next year.  

Mathematically, 6 teams are still in the running for the title in GTE. The #60 Formula Racing Ferrari, who won the last 2 rounds in Austria and France, has an advantage of 19 points over the #52 BMW by Marc VDS.  Things should have to go very wrong for the Danish team to lose the title.    The Belgian team only has a shot at the title if they win and the Ferrari finishes 9th in class or lower.  The battle for second and third will be fierce though, with only 13 points splitting 2nd and 7nd at the moment.  It's BMW (#52, 54 points) vs Ferrari (#55 Af Corse, 51 points - #66 JMW, 49 points - #56 AT Racing, 47 points) vs Porsche (#88 Proton, 50 points - #86 Gulf Racing, 41 points) on Sunday.  This could be very exciting stuff !

Last but not least, the GTC class. The #59 TDS Racing BMW holds an advantage of 13 points ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari armada. #62 458 Italia leads the chasing pack and is the only one who can steal the title away from the BMW.  The battle for third will go between the #64 and #63 Ferrari, with a bit of luck the #68 Massive Motorsport Aston Martin could be in contention for the third spot although they are 15 points off af the moment.  

Practice gets under way today at 10h30 and 15h00.  Qualifying on Sunday at 09h00 and the title deciding 4 hour race at 13h00.  The race will be live on MotorsTV and streamed on the ELMS website (www.europeanlemans.com).

Kristof Vermeulen. 

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