Sunday 12 November 2017

ELMS 2017 - 4 Hours of Portimao: Victory for Graff racing, G-Drive takes championship

Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff Racing Oreca crossed the line to take the win in today’s dramatic finale of the 2017 European Le Mans Series season, giving the car he shares with Gustavo Yacaman and James Allen its second win of the season.

Despite a fueling problem causing the car to take on 20 liters less each stop and requiring a final splash and dash to make up the difference, the French team’s car finished a comfortable 38 seconds ahead of the #32 United Autosports Ligier. The #32 needed to win the race to claim the series championship title but a 55 second drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane and the #22 G-Drive having a faultless race shattered all their title hopes.

Third place went to the #27 SMP Racing Dallara of Isaakyan and Orudzhev, their third podium finish out of four races. However, it was the fourth place finishers who stole the day as the #22 G-Drive Racing Oreca by DragonSpeed did enough to take the LMP2 Teams title, with the full-season duo of Léo Roussel and Memo Rojas taking the crown in the Driver’s Championship.

Roussel, Rojas and third driver Ryo Hirakawa drove a text-book race to keep the car in the top three during the first three hours before slipping down towards the end. However, as the team’s goal was to finish in the top five to win the title the trio’s steady drive did exactly what was needed to deliver the Russian-backed team its second straight European Le Mans Series title.

Moving on to the LMP3 class, United Autosports had a far better day with the Anglo-American team taking a 1-2 finish and wrapping up the LMP3 title in the process. Mark Patterson, Wayne Boyd and Christian England in #3 Ligier JS P3 took the chequered flag 11.769 seconds ahead of their teammates, American duo John Falb and Sean Rayhall in the #2 car.

As for United Autosports in LMP2, the #18 M.Racing-YMR car of Alexandre Cougnaud, Antoine Jung and Romano Ricci had a mathematical chance to take the championship title trophy but needed an outright win to have any chance of taking the title with UA’s American duo starting from the back of the grid following their fastest quali time being deleted fro track-limits abuse.

Despite a spirited race the M.Racing-YMR trio only managed to claim the final podium spot a lap down from the winners handing the Championship win to Falb and Rayhall in the #2 car which Rayhall had dragged from the back of the field up to second place before handing over to Falb.

With 50 minutes of the race remaining Falb was leading Christian England in the #3 car with the Briton passing Falb in the final 30 minutes for the win and handing second place and the Championship to the American duo.

In GTE, the Championship went to JMW Motorsport while the win went to Christian Ried, Joël Camathias and Matteo Cairoli  inthe #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR.Despite the Proton Porsche finishing 8.5 seconds ahead of the yellow and black Ferrari of Robert Smith, Jody Fannin and Will Stevens, the second-place finish gave the Colchester UK based team enough points to overhaul TF Sport, who’s #90 Aston Martin Vantage V8 lead the standings as we came into the final round, by 104 points to 102 and claim the Team’s Championship.

Today’s class victory meant that the #77 Proton Porsche 911 claimed third spot in the LMGTE Team’s Trophy with 80 points.Despite the points advantage going into today’s race a Championship win for the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage had always looked hopeful at best with the car struggling all weekend to find pace. Nicki Thiim battled the struggling car briefly into second place as the race entered its final hour but in the end the team had to settle for third place in the race and second place in the 2017 LMGTE Championship.

Race Highlights

Kristof Vermeulen
This article was originally posted on Sportscarglobal