ELMS: Signatech Alpine are 2014 ELMS Champions in dramatic end to season race in Portugal
4 Hours of Estoril, Sunday 19th 2014 – The final round of the 2014 European Le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Estoril, has been won by the LMP2 #24 ORECA 03R of Sébastien Loeb Racing, Vincent Capillaire and endurance debutant Jimmy Eriksson giving the team its first win in the Championship and the series its fifth different winner from five races. Fifth place for no36 Signatech Alpine secures the 2014 European Le Mans Series Driver and Team Titles.
Christian Klien, Gary Hirsch and Pierre Ragues of NewBlood by Morand Racing will be on the second step of the podium, while local star Filipe Albuquerque and his teammates Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell complete the podium.
The LMP2 championship title wasn’t to be decided until the very end of the race and it went to Signatech Alpine, but it wasn’t all plain sailing… Following the retirement of Thiriet by TDS Racing, it looked as though the battle would be played out between Signatech Alpine and JOTA Sport, but they didn’t count on Sébastien Loeb Racing spoiling their game; never mind the Stop & Go penalty awarded to Signatech Alpine for a pit lane rules infringement. Simon Dolan’s brief off track excursion at the wheel of the No.38 Zytek played a part in the outcome, as did a great performance by the No.34 Race Performance ORECA and a second penalty for Signatech Alpine of three, long minutes for spinning the wheels while leaving the pit lane.
In short, the last two hours of the 4 Hours of Estoril offered various and numerous opportunities to each team to move up the order.
LMGTE- No72 SMP Racing Ferrari snatches LMGTE Driver and Team Title with Victory
The 2014 European Le Mans Series finished in dramatic style with the LMGTE class titles being decided in the final hour of the race when Andrea Bertolini overtook the no85 Gulf Racing UK Aston Martin of Roald Goethe to lead in the no72 SMP Racing Ferrari. The 25 points for the victory were enough to overhaul the 21 points advantage that the no55 AF Corse Ferrari had at the start of the race.
The Italian team’s race went from bad to worse after Duncan Cameron was hit by one of the GTC McLarens early in the race, which caused rear suspension failure and meant a lengthy stop to repair. However Michele Rugolo had to pit with another technical issue and after another lengthy stop the team managed to take the chequered flag 23 laps adrift and in 11th place.
Their only hope was that the SMP Ferrari couldn’t finish on the top step of the podium but this was a forlorn hope as Bertolini cruised to the chequered flag to give himself, Viktor Shaitar and Sergey Zlobin the European crown. The second step of the podium was filled by the nr54 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Marco Cioci, Michael Lyons and Pierguiseppe Perazzini one lap behind, with the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Daniel McKenzie, George Richardson and Daniel Zampieri taking the final podium position.
GTC-No73 SMP Racing Ferrari finishes third in GTC to secure the 2014 Driver and Team Titles
The GTC class was also won in dramatic style with the no73 SMP Racing Ferrari of Olivier Beretta, David Markosov and Anton Ladygin, finished on the third step of the podium to claim the second GTC title for SMP Racing in two years and the second title of the day for the Russian team. The only championship rivals for the Russians was the all Danish team of Johnny Laursen, Mickel Mac and Jan Magnussen who finished one place ahead in second place despite an early spin for Laursen that cost the Dane a lot of time as the car was recovered from the gravel.
The GTC win went to the BMW Sport Trophy Marc VDS team of Markus Paltalla, Henry Hassid and Bas Leinders on the Belgian team’s ELMS debut. The battle for the lead was very intense in the mid part of the race with Paltalla getting the upper hand against the nr71 SMP Ferrari of Luca Persiani despite the Finn spinning off the track and rejoining. At the chequered flag Leinders took the victory 1 lap ahead of the no60 Formula Racing Ferrari.
On Sunday evening at the Casino Estoril the teams and drivers who took part in the 2014 European Le Mans Series gathered to celebrate the end of an exciting season.
The top three in each of the LMP2, LMGTE and GTC categories received their trophies in the glittering surroundings of the Black and Silver Room at the premier venue in the heart of Estoril.
As well as the championship trophies, three special awards were presented with the ‘Rookie of the Year’ being named as Jota Sport’s Harry Tincknell, ‘Gentleman Driver of the Year’ was presented to Michel Frey from Race Performance and Newblood by Morand Racing’s Team Principal Benoit Morand being named as ‘Man of the Year’.
The 2014 season is now finished and all of the titles have been decided. The 2015 season will begin in March with the Official Collective Test at the Circuit Paul Ricard on 22/23 March and round 1 will be at Silverstone in the UK on Saturday 11 April 2015.