G-DRIVE RACING CROWNED 2016 ELMS CHAMPIONS IN ESTORIL
24th October 2016
G-Drive Racing said farewell to their ‘Mighty 38’ Gibson 015S-Nissan chassis in the best possible fashion with victory at Estoril to secure the prestigious European Le Mans Series crown on Sunday (October 23).
The dominant victory was the second of the season for Giedo van der Garde, Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell and the eighth for the legendary chassis with which the Jota Sport-run team won the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, in its 33rd and final appearance. It was also the second victory for G-Drive Racing in seven days after the thrilling win at the 6 Hours of Fuji FIA WEC event.
Starting third, van der Garde signalled his intentions with a superb move around the outside of Fabian Barthez and pole-sitter Nicolas Lapierre at turn one to take the lead. The former Formula One driver was forced to relinquish the lead to Lapierre’s Oreca 05-Nissan on the straight on lap two, but was then able to keep the Frenchman in his sights for the duration of his stint.
After escaping damage in contact with a Ferrari GTE entry, van der Garde took his chance when Lapierre was delayed by an LMP3 car and led the pair into the pits on lap 32.
Dolan, who has been an ever-present in ‘Mighty 38’ since 2012, then climbed aboard for the first of two stints, but emerged behind Dragonspeed’s Henrik Hedman, who had gained track position by electing not to take tyres. However, Dolan was quickly on the tail of the Swede and decisively retook the lead around the outside of turn four on lap 34 before pulling out a healthy gap of over 50 seconds.
Despite the appearance of the Safety Car for one of many incidents involving LMP3 machinery, Dolan was untroubled out in front for the duration of his second stint and handed over to Tincknell a comfortable 47 seconds clear of the chasing pack.
With the Jota Sport-run team’s main championship rivals TDS by Thiriet Racing waylaid by technical problems, Tincknell only had to bring the car home to win the championship. But as the skies darkened, it turned into a race against the elements as much as the competition.
Thankfully, the rain held off until the end as Tincknell led Lapierre across the line by a significant 51.1 seconds after four hours of racing, putting the team’s past Estoril heartbreak to bed in resounding fashion.
Once the well-deserved celebrations have subsided, G-Drive Racing return to action next week in the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Shanghai, as Roman Rusinov, Will Stevens and Alex Brundle begin their pursuit of two series wins in consecutive races.
“I can’t believe it, we hoped we could do it but we just had to run our own race today and hope for the best regarding the title. We drove the wheels off the car, we all did. Everybody performed fantastically, we never put a foot wrong and we got the reward we deserved, especially after the last few years when we were so close to the championship. I am absolutely delighted with this victory and title success.”
“We’ve been trying to win this race for three years, we’ve been trying to win the championship for three years and each previous year we’ve come close, I think we’ve deserved it, but it didn’t quite come our way before.
“This year we knew we just needed to be a little bit more consistent and make less mistakes. We did it in style by winning the final race and the whole team were magnificent. This is a sweet victory and such a great end to the career of this fantastic car.”
Giedo van der Garde
“I’m so pleased – before we came here I really had the full belief that we could win it and we did it. The guys did a good job, the whole team did a good job. To have my first season in the ELMS and win it straight away, I’m very pleased.”
“We have been so close over the last two seasons to winning the ELMS and now we have done it. This achievement is for every member of the team. The way we won it was perfect, leading the majority of the race and having superb pit stops throughout.
“We have had a lot of great days as a team and this one is right up there. This chassis has a remarkable history and for it to win the ELMS title in its final race is very satisfying and entirely worthy of such a wonderful car. I want to express my appreciation and thanks to all our partners, team member and fans for this title win.”
Race Results & Points
LMP2/ Overall Race Result – Estoril
1 Dolan/Tincknell/van der Garde G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan
2 Lapierre/Hedman/Hanley Dragonspeed ORECA 05-Nissan
3 Petrov/Wirth/Coletti SMP Racing BR01-Nissan
4 Pla/ Jönsson Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan
5 Gommendy/Lyons/ Vervisch Eurasia Motorsport ORECA 05-Nissan
6 P. Lafargue /P. Lafargue /Enjalbert IDEC Sport Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan
2016 European Le Mans Series for LMP2 drivers
1 Tincknell/Dolan/Van der Garde 103
2 Thiriet//Beche 94
3 Wirth/Coletti 83
4 Lapierre/Hedman/Hanley 76
5 Hirakawa 68
6 Leal 60
European Le Mans Series LMP2 Teams’ Championship
1 G-Drive Racing 103
2 Thiriet by TDS Racing 94
3 SMP Racing 83
4 Dragonspeed 76
5 Eurasia Motorsport 50
6 Krohn Racing 39