20th October 2015

British team suffers disappointment in Estoril finalé resulting in championship title heartbreak for second consecutive year

JOTA Sport has narrowly missed out on winning the European Le Mans Series title for a second consecutive year having previously finished second (2014) and third (2013) over the past two years. Simon Dolan, Filipe Albuquerque and Harry Tincknell brought their Gibson-Nissan home in to fourth place in the final race of the season in Portugal last weekend (18 Oct) to ultimately finish third in the championship.

The JOTA Gibson finished a lap behind the winner in the Four Hours of Estoril – the British team having recorded podium place finishes in four of this year’s five races – the only team to achieve this impressive feat. JOTA’s stunning form of one win (Red Bull Ring) plus second (Silverstone) third (Imola and Paul Ricard) and fourth placings, five front row starts and three fastest race laps nevertheless saw them miss out on the series title by four points. Last year, despite achieving first, second, third and fourth place race finishes, JOTA agonisingly missed out on the series “crown” by the same margin.

Albuquerque started the JOTA Sport Gibson 015S-Nissan from pole position on the 30-car grid in the ELMS finalé at Estoril with a slender two-point lead after the team had received a time penalty costing them a deserved race victory in the previous race at Paul Ricard in France and subsequently a severely reduced championship lead.

Filipe had done a stunning job in qualifying on a treacherously slippery wet track to record JOTA’s fifth front row start of the season. The Audi Sport “works” driver impressively built a near 30secs lead by the time he pitted for Dolan with 52mins gone. Simon soon returned to the front of the field but a sudden heavy rain shower with 100mins on the clock caught Simon out. The JOTA Gibson slowly spun into the gravel trap, requiring a tow-out by a recovery vehicle under Full Course Yellow. He immediately pitted for fuel and intermediate tyres resuming seventh but over 90secs off the lead.

Another rain deluge brought about another brief Full Course Yellow while Dolan, driving intelligently on the now very slippery in places track, was back up to fifth at the halfway point in the race. Tincknell took over with 90mins to run and immediately bettered the race’s fastest lap set by Albuquerque – the JOTA Gibson an astonishing 0.649secs faster than any other car in the weather-affected race. The factory Nissan NISMO driver moved into fourth place with 42mins remaining before making his final pit-stop 12mins later for fuel, Harry duly crossing the finishing line in that position, one-lap down on the winning car, despite a hard charge.

In addition to its ELMS campaign this year, JOTA, which recently announced an exciting and unique partnership with Arden International Motorsport to create opportunities for drivers between sportscar and single-seater disciplines, claimed a win (Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps) and second place (24 Hours of Le Mans) in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship. JOTA Sport will contest the entire nine-race 2016 WEC with an ORECA 05-Nissan while competing in ELMS with its Gibson 015S-Nissan. Both championships begin at Silverstone (15-17 Apr).

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Simon Dolan (GB). Age 46. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC):

“It’s difficult to express how disappointed we are all feeling. We battled so hard today, as we have all season, and but for a very harsh penalty in the previous race at Ricard, we would have secured the ELMS title in convincing fashion. One we felt we deserved.”
Filipe Albuquerque (P). Age 30. Born & Lives: Coimbra (P):

“Of course I’m gutted how the championship ended. I had been delighted to get pole. Conditions were pretty tricky and I had a few moments on the wet track but I needed to take risks. The track was not 100% dry at the start of the race, some corners were still damp, making things difficult early on. I drove really hard and pulled out a gap of almost 30secs before handing the Gibson to Simon. He was the one unfortunately caught in the heavy rain shower on ‘slicks’. That cost us time as did the Gibson not firing up immediately on a couple of pit-stops.”

Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 23. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB):

“After the dominant season we had up until this race, to ultimately finish third in the standings is a huge and bitter disappointment. I was flying when I first took over the Gibson, setting a series of fast laps, but something on the rear wing broke costing me a massive amount of time.”

Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group:

“JOTA Sport had the fastest driver line-up and the fastest car today but a small issue and a dose of bad luck meant that in the end we couldn’t fight for the win and ultimately the championship. Once again the entire team and our drivers have proven they are the class of the field in 2015 with an unrivalled qualifying record, a win in the WEC and a close second at Le Mans. In fact today is the first time we haven’t been on the podium all year.”

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