It wasn’t to be for Inter Europol Competition again this year in the European Le Mans Series, despite heading into the final race of the season at Portimao with an 18-point advantage and the very best efforts from the #13 team, it ended in disappointment with the Ligier parked in the gravel trap following a steering arm failure with 12-minutes of the event remaining.
It was emotionally tough for Charles Crews, Nico Pino, Guilherme Oliveira and the whole of the ever-expanding Polish outfit who had dominated the opening two hours of the race. Contact however from the #31 TDS Racing LMP2 set in motion a sequence of events that would lead to the ultimate retirement.
Charles had moved to the front of the field ahead of title rivals #17 Cool Racing and soon had over a minute advantage. Nico took over for the third stint, and it was with 70-minutes remaining that #31 LMP2 made contact to the front left when lapping our LMP3.
The steering arm was damaged, but of course, changing something like that is not the work of the moment, so Nico completed his stint and handed over to Guilherme to complete his home race and take the championship. Neither of these targets were achieved as he failed to make the first turn and then collided with TF Sport Aston Martin. The emotions were obvious, as Cool Racing clicked off the laps, and took the title; our congratulations to them.
While the #13 crew gathered their thoughts, the right-hand side of the garage had enjoyed a good race with the #43 LMP2 Oreca. Damp conditions at the start had helped Pietro Fittipaldi to utilise his natural car control in such conditions to move from seventh on the grid to lead the race, a position he maintained to the end of his stint.
Conditions remained variable however and this caught out David Heinemeier Hansson on two separate occasions, and with time lost, he ended his stint in seventh position. Fabio Scherer had a good run however and was able to move back through the field to finish fourth to cap off a positive uptirn in late season fortunes.
The #14 trio of James Dayson, Noam Abramczyk, Mateusz Kaprzyk ran as high as fourth position, but they too ultimately fell foul to the tricky conditions and had to be content with the eighth position.
While the memories of this season finale will always be that of the #13 car in the gravel, it was the lack of points in the opening two rounds that sealed the final result, more than the finale itself that resulted in Portimao disappointment.
There are however plenty of positives. The team has grown, developed impressively in both classes, and won three straight LMP3 rounds – Monza, Barcelona & Spa. In LMP2, the final rounds of the season yielded a second at Spa and fourth in Portimao, in what is probably a top two car in terms of speed in the championship.
Sascha Fassbender, Team Manager
“Coming back from the first two events, where we secured just four points, to secure three wins in a row is quite impressive. It shows the power of our team and the desire to achieve great things but unfortunately, Sunday was not our day. Everything was set up for us to bring it home., but that’s racing and it was the start of the season we lost the championship and not here.”