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ELMS 4 Hours of Portimão

The season finale of the 2018 European Le Mans Series was held at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, a 4.692 km race circuit located in Portimão, in the south of Portugal.  

A total of 39 teams (15 LMP2, 18 LMP3 and 6 GTE teams) started in the season finale of the European Le Mans Series. The G-Drive duo of Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola already claimed the title in the LMP2 class at the last round in Spa-Francorchamps, but the title decisions in the LMP3 and the GTE classes were still open.

I could not imagine a better venue to stage the ELMS finale. This amazing circuit with its constantly undulating nature and plenty of twists and turns, resembles a roller-coaster ride and has a dangerous edge that reminds me of a modern version of Spa-Francorchamps or sections of the Nordschleife.

The race started on Sunday under sunny skies but with strong northerly wind blowing that brought cold temperatures to the circuit.

With a lot to fight for during the weekend, the entire race turned out to be a nail-biting finale. In the end it was the United Autosports Ligier-Gibson (22) of Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson who took a second consecutive victory crossing the line just 0.5 seconds ahead of Will Stevens in the Panis Barthez Competition Ligier (23). The G-Drive Racing Oreca (26), finished in 3rd place but was given a 10 second penalty for an earlier track limits infringement promoting the United Autosports Ligier (32) of Will Owen to the final podium position.

The Inter Europol Competition Ligier (13) duo of Martin Hippe and Jakub Smiechowski took a maiden victory for the Polish team in the LMP3 category. However, it was the RLR MSport Ligier crew (15) of Job Van Uitert, John Farano and Rob Garofall who finished in 5th place and in doing so, clinched the 2018 LMP3 Driver and Team titles.

In the LMGTE category, it was the Proton Competition (77) Porsche 911 of Christian Ried, Dennis Olsen and Marvin Dienst, who took the chequered flag and scored its first win of the 2018 season.

Gianluca and Giorgio Roda together with their Italian teammate Matteo Cairoli became the first Father and Son driver pairing to win an ELMS title by bringing the Proton Competition Porsche (88) home in third place. In doing so, they secured both the Team and Driver titles.

The 2018 European Le Mans Series is now over and the countdown to the 2019 season opener at Le Castellet in April 2019 has started.

 

 

ELMS 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 2018

The 5th round of the European Le Mans Series, took place at Spa-Francorchamps, with an attendance of 40 cars racing in the LMP2, LMP3 and GTE classes. Although Qualifying remained dry, rain was present throughout the weekend. On race-day a storm bringing extreme weather joined the party, which is why the race organizers decided to bring the race forward by 2 hours in a hope to avoid the worst.

The race started under a constant drizzle and with the safety car leading the pack to give the drivers a chance to familiarize themselves with the extreme conditions. After 4 laps under the safety car, they were released to find their own pace. After 100 minutes of racing and the 3rd safety car of the day out on track, the rain kept increasing. LMP3 driver Martin Hippe: "you could not even follow the Safety car, it was that slippery at the end" (GT-Eins)

The logical consequence was a red flag which was shown after 125 minutes of racing and would mean half points for all point scoring teams if the race was not resumed. Half an hour after the break it was announced that the race would not be restarted.

With this signaling the end of the race, the United Autosport Ligier duo of Phil Hansson and Filipe Albuquerque #22 takes the win before the Dragonspeed of Hendrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre and Ben Hanley and the Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier of Timothé Buret, Julien Canal and Will Stevens.

In the LMP3 class it was also a United Autosports team that took the win with the duo John Falb and Scott Andrews in the #2 Ligier in front of the #15 RLR Msport Ligier of Job van Uitert, John Farano and Robert Garofall. Third on the podium is the British 360 Racing Ligier team driven by Terrence Woodward and Ross Kaiser.

In the GTE class, the victory goes to the Ebimotors Porsche trio Fabio Babini, Riccardo Pera and Bret Curtis ahead of the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari driven by Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott and the #88 Proton Porsche driven by Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli.

With 55% of the race completed only half points were handed out. Under these circumstances, the 11th placed G-Drive (LMP2) trio of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne were able to secure the 2018 ELMS championship title.

WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone 2018

As a big endurance racing fan, I watch all FIA WEC races, have been to the 24 Hours of Le Mans since the early 90s and even followed endurance racing through the 80s. So, when the request came through to photograph the Silverstone World Endurance Championship (WEC) event, I did not hesitate and took up this opportunity without blinking an eye.

It is a personal highlight in my photography career to cover such a high-level racing event and with F1 world champions such as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button taking part it does feel really special.

The series features multiple classes of cars competing in 4 different categories. The LMP1 and LMP2 prototype classes are sure to provide plenty of action with high quality driver line-ups and fiercely fast cars.

The world class GTE Pro category is the playground of Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Ford and BMW and provides world class competitive racing too. Add to this a very strong LMGTE Am class with entries from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche and things could not get any better!

I had a great weekend and enjoyed watching and documenting the race from close by. Pure adrenaline!

I am happy to share some of my photography from the 2018 Super Season Silverstone race and I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them…

ELMS 4 Hours Silverstone 2018

Rendezvous at Silverstone Circuit for the ELMS and the FIA WEC Super Season weekend double header. This is the only time in the season that both series meet and in doing so provide a total of 10 hours of race action in one weekend (4 hours of ELMS and 6 Hours of WEC).

The 4 hours of Silverstone European Le Mans Series race took place on Saturday and was won by the G-Drive Racing (26) trio Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne. They proved once again to be unbeatable after their third victory in four races, strengthening their lead in the championship as their rivals struggled around them. Their closest rival Racing Engineering (24) crashed out due to a mechanical failure with half an hour to go promoting the Dragonspeed (21) trio Hendrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Nicolas Lapierre to second place. The IDEC Sports (28) trio Paul Lafargue, Paul Loup-Chatin and Memo Rojas slipped to third place due to a splash & dash in the closing stages of the race.

In the LMP3 category, United Autosports (3) trio Anthony Wells, Garret Grist and Matthew Bell took the win, followed by the Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen Team (7) of Colin Noble, Alex Kapadia and Christian Stubbe-Olsen. Third was the Ultimate Racing Norma M30 (17) of Matthieu and Jean-Baptiste Lahaye with François Heriau.

The GTE class delivered a dramatic finish, determined by 10 second time penalties for the two leading Ferraris and a collision in the last corner for the pursuing Proton Porsche driven by Matteo Cairoli. In the end the Proton Competition (88) Matteo Cairoli, Gianluca Roda and Giorgio Roda were beaten to the finish line by the British JMW Motorsport (66) Ferrari trio Miguel Molina, Liam Griffin and Alex MacDowall by a meager 0.124s.

Enjoy some of the race action from the ELMS weekend with a selection of photos captured throughout the weekend.

Also, stay tuned for a photo-reportage of the FIA WEC race that will be featured in a separate Blog Post.

 

 

ELMS 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring

Set in the idyllic mountains of the Steiermark, the Red Bull Ring was host to the third round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series championship. This historic circuit (known as Zeltweg in the 70s) got a major revamp in recent years and is now an ultramodern and stunning racetrack with all the state-of-the-art facilities a racetrack can dream of.

Breath-taking views and ever-changing weather conditions added to the drama throughout the weekend and was a guarantee for exciting racing.

Top spot went to G-Drive Racing (26, Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne, Andrea Pizzitola) followed by Racing Engineering (24, Norman Nato, Olivier Pla, Paul Petit) and United Autosports (22, Philip Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque) in third place. Winners in the LMP3 category were RLR MSport (15, John Farano, Job van Uitert, Rob Garofall) and Proton Competition (88, Gian Luca Roda, Giorgio Roda, Matteo Cairoli) took the LMGTE Class victory.

It has been more than 35 years since I last visited this circuit, and just like then, this weekend will remain etched in my memory. Fantastic!