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.