(English) Inter Europol Competition retain European Le Mans Series championship lead with P3 at Imola

7 lipca 2024

Przepraszamy, ten wpis jest dostępny tylko w języku Amerykański Angielski.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Nobody likes post-race penalties; it’s unfair to the fans who tune in to watch, fans at the circuits and all of those who give their all from the pitlane. For the second race in succession, a fourth-place finish for Inter Europol Competition was later adjusted to a podium position result. Sadly, there was no podium ceremony for the Polish-based squad to enjoy after a remarkable day of motorsport.

To say that the third round of the European Le Mans Series was a rollercoaster for the championship-leading #43 trio of Sebastian Alvarez, Vlad Lomko, and Tom Dillmann was an understatement. We believe we should / could have won, as was the case two weeks ago at Watkins Glen and did last time out in ELMS Paul Ricard.

From near despair pre-grid when the #43 Oreca was pit-bound with a brake issue to some hope when Sebastian started last from the pitlane rather than the P11 Tom qualified the car—courtesy of a straight-line speed deficit that his overnight gearbox change clearly rectified—it really looked like an impossible situation for the title leaders early Sunday afternoon.

As it was, Sebastian took the opening stints, took the penalty for the start procedure infraction, and was a lap adrift of the LMP2 rivals. He pushed hard with great lap times as expected, and then it was into the midpoint of the four-hour race. A timely Safety Car was very welcome, with Vlad returning to the lead lap, and from that point, it was game on!

Controlled aggression and speed from Sebastian and Vlad ensured that Tom Dillmann was in the top eight heading into the final stages. Tom drove forward – as he always does – running second overall ahead of the final stops but dropping to fourth as the various fuel and tyre strategies played out.

With 20 minutes to go, he retained the position, applying massive pressure to the #10 Vector ahead. This went down to the wire, with Tom taking the chequered less than a second ahead.
Into the Italian evening and well after the chequered, the series confirmed that the provisional race winner had incurred a rule breach, promoting Sebastian Alvarez, Vlad Lomko and Tom Dillmann to third position.

This ironically reduced the provisional five-point lead in the championship heading into the second half of the season to just two, but we led with confidence that, given a less troubled race weekend, we have the performance to win at any venue.

Elsewhere, the rollercoaster analogy applied further, but sadly only downhill. Following late-race technical issues that denied them at Paul Ricard, Luca Ghiotto, Ollie Gray, and Clement Novalak again showed race-winning speed, but a penalty mid-race for a yellow flag infringement for the former, nose damage and subsequent change took them out of contention, and the #34 Oreca finished seventh.

Of note was the tremendous qualifying run from Ollie and the great opening stint from Luca, who moved from P6 to the race lead by the start of his second stint, before incurring the flag penalty.

The #88 LMP3 suffered another difficult race with multiple issues, primarily a driveshaft issue with Alex Bukhantsov at the wheel. Multiple laps down, there was never anything other than finishing the race ahead, but Alex and teammates Pedro Perino and Kai Askey pushed to the end for P9.

The team’s next ELMS race is Spa-Francorchamps next month, but before that, the #52 will be back in action in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Tom Dillmann
“From the moment we hit the track Thursday, the car was amazing, and we knew early on that we had a good car for the race weekend. We had the loss of power in qualifying, which compromised us a little [the team changed the gearbox into race day Sunday], but then we had the pre-grid issue.

“We started from the pitlane, served a 60-second penalty, and from thereon, it really didn’t look great, and the target was to score a few points. Seb did a really good job at the beginning; we all had a great pace, especially when it came to holding the lead lap.

“Vlad triple-stinted the types like a true Pro, and then towards the end, another triple stint, which put us in a good position to fight for the podium. We deserved this podium, as it was just an incredible performance. When you’re fighting for the championship and on a difficult day, to score so well is massive!”

Vlad Lomko
“A crazy race, but the result did not disappoint. After basically being a lap down, with the correct strategy calls, flawless driving from all of us and teamwork, we managed to achieve this result.

“I am super happy and proud of my team. The feelings at the beginning of the race were not that high, but all the hard work paid off, and we managed to end up pretty high on the scoreboard!”

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