There were still a lot of trophies and championships to drive for, when the season’s last European Le Mans Series race was run at Autodromo do Algarve, which is more known as Portimao in Portugal.
39 cars were ready on the grid, where the race started at 12.30 local time.
The start was pretty smooth, with only a couple of locked wheels under the first braking, but there was no dramatic contact.
Panis Barthez Competition #23 took the lead after starting second behind Duqueine Engineering #29. Mikkel Jensen in AT Racing #9 had taken the lead in the LMP3 class ahead of the Polesitter M.Racing – YMR #19.
In the GTE class things got turned upside down, when Krohn Racing Ferrari #83 took the lead from Proton Competition Porsche #88 and #77, while the Polesitting car JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 fell all the way back to last place in the class.
Roman Rusinov in G-Drive Racing #26 spun only five minutes into the race but could continue after a little detour over the grass. The stewards evaluated that IDEC #28 had punched a hole on the car, which wasn’t obvious from the TV feed – just that there was a close contact between the two. It gave #28 a drive-through penalty.
M.Racing – YMR #18 spun by itself, which caused a local yellow flag zone. Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 outbraked itself and hit the rear of Proton Competition #88 – in the yellow flag zone! It ripped the diffusor of Gianluca Roda’s Porsche and caused a Full Course Yellow, so that the debris could get cleaned up.
After five minutes of cleaning, the race got restarted. Pierre Ragues in Duqueine Engineering #29 snatched the lead again.
But just a few minutes later there was another FCY when a sign was blown to the track. It caused panic between G-Drive Racing #40, DragonSpeed #21 and G-Drive Racing #26, where #40 braked quicker than the two cars behind it expected. Rusinov in #26 flew past both cars, while Henrik Hedman in #21 was almost across the track to not hit the rear of #41. Luckily there was no contact between the track.
24 minutes into the race, Proton Competition Porsche #88 came in front of the GTE class when Roda outbraked Nic Jönsson in Krohn Racing Ferrari #33.
M.Racing – YMR #18 got a drive-through penalty for a jump start – not that it helped them after the spin earlier.
Krohn Racing Ferrari #83 came under pressure from the same brand teammates in Spirit of Race #55, where the two drove side by side through several corners, before #83 could defend the position in some more laps before #55 went past.
There was also a battle between Proton Competition Porsche #77, JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 and Ebimotors Porsche #80, where Ried in #77 had the elbows out, in the fight for fourth position in the class.
APR-Rebellion #31 had problems with the right front wheel, where Harrison Newey had to pit shortly after he overtook the car.
360 Racing #6 also had to pit when Ross Kaiser got technical problems with the car. Hence they were out of the championship battle. Kaiser explained afterwards that the exhaust manifold was cracked, so there was something from the wiring on the car that was melted, so he could no longer change gear. After a half hour of repair, the car was back to the track – but with no chance of a good result.
Nic Jönsson fell back further in the GTE field with Krohn Racing Ferrari #83, where both Proton Competition Porsche #77 and Ebimotors #80 drove past the Swede in two corners.
OREGON Team #10 had a solo spin, which Panis Barthez Competition #23 just managed to avoid.
On the next lap, Felipe Nasr in Cetilar Villorba Corsa #47 went up to second place in LMP2 by overtaking #23.
DKR Engineering #8 had a spin in Turn 4, after a contact with High Class Racing #49. Thus #8 fell back from second to fifth place in LMP3.
Eurointernational #12 had a high speed spin and stalled on the track but could get the car restarted.
M.Racing – YMR #18 got pushed into the garage after only an hour, where the mechanics looked down into the engine compartment.
DragonSpeed #21 and Cool Racing #4 had a contact with each other under braking in Turn 6. #4 sent #21 around in a spin, followed by another contact. It damaged the front of #4, while #21 had a broken suspension as well as damage on the rear end of the car. After a long deliberation, the stewards chose to give #21 a drive-through penalty for the incident, since they meant that #21 had pulled in front of #4, that had no chance to sidestep it.
Nasr in Cetilar Villorba Corsa #47 had got himself up behind Pierre Ragues in Duqueine Engineering #29, and put the Frenchman under pressure. After 80 minutes, #47 got the lead of the race.
It was as if Nasr was possessed. When he was about to overtake AT Racing #9 with Alexander Talkanitsa behind the wheel, he came with flashing lights and dove really late on the latter, who had to avoid him and go off the track.
After an hour and a half, RLR MSport #15 took the lead in LMP3 when Job van Uitert overtake Alexander Talkanitsa.
Duqueine Engineering #29 was unlucky to break the rear suspension after 90 minutes, which was such a shame for the team that had driven so well in the first part of the race.
The two United Autosports #32 and #22 LMP2 teammates had a close duel for second place. They were however the last two cars that hadn’t done their second pitstop, so in reality they would fall back again.
There were lots of physical contacts after 100 minutes of racing. First AVF by Adrian Valles #30 had a contact with Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 as well as United Autosports #3.
On the next lap, Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 came out in front after touching Proton Competition Porsche #88 – whom they also had a contact with earlier in the race.
#47 got a Stop & Go penalty for hitting Proton Competition Porsche #77, when #47 was on the way to the pits.
The stewards gave AVF by Adrian Valles #30 a 2-minute Stop & Go penalty for hitting #7 and #3. It was also taken into consideration that this wasn’t the first time Konstantin Tereschenko had hit his competitors.
Algarve Pro Racing #25 had a spin in Turn 4 but could continue.
The third FCY of the day came because there were debris on the track. Many of the teams used the chance to pit, so they could save time.
Halfway into the race, United Autosports #22 was leading, ahead of Panis Barthez Competition #23 and United Autosports #32. In LMP3 it was RLR MSPort #15 in front of Inter Europol Competition #13 and M.Racing – YMR #19. The GTE class saw Proton Competition Porsche #77 with the lead, ahead of Ebimotors Porsche #80 and Spirit of Race Ferrari #55. There was, however, a little note regarding the standing. Some of the teams had just pitted, while others were currently pitting.
When the race got restarted, United Autosports #32 was leading, followed by their teammates in #22, while Panis Barthez Competition #23 was third. This change happened due to their pitstops.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 and OREGON Team #10 crashed in Turn 14, where both cars ended up across the track. Luckily, both could continue.
Ultimate #17 had a spin shortly afterwards, when Francois Heriau got hit by JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 under braking to Turn 4. It gave #66 a drive-through penalty for the contact.
With 80 minutes left on the clock, Ebimotors had a contact with Eurointernational #11. First Gianluca Giraudi in #80 hit Giorgio Mondini in #11 from behind, after that #11 spun around, rolled backwards over the track and ripped #80’s rear wheel. It deployed the first Safety Car of the day. #80 stopped in a dangerous place, so the race director had no other choice.
All teams in top 7 used this chance to pit and got their penultimate refuelling done.
It took a bit of time with the cleaning, as well as getting the leading United Autosports #22 ahead as the first car behind the Safety Car.
a negative result of that was that Proton Competition Porsche #77 got almost a whole lap lead on the other GTE cars, while their teammates in #88 and JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 had their own battle for the third place, a lap ahead of Spirit of Race Ferrari #55.
With 70 minutes left, the race got restarted. Local hero Filipe Albuerquerque had the lead in United Autosports #22, ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 and United Autosports #32. RLR MSport #15 was leading LMP3, in front of Inter Europol Competition #13 and Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 with Christian Stubbe Olsen behind the wheel. In GTE it was still #77 ahead of #88 and #66.
There was a drive-through penalty for Eurointernational #12 when they did a mistake during one of their pitstops.
Cool Racing #4 had another problem on the track as Alexandre Coigny limped with a punctured left rear tire.
Dennis Andersen in High Class Racing #49 tried to defend himself against Oliver Pla in Racing Engineering #24. But Bronze against Platinum is a bit of an unfair battle and the Dane had to give up the position.
Jean-Eric Vergne in G-Drive Racing #26 attempted a late outbraking on Albuerquerque in #22 in Turn 6, but only managed to push #22 wide, which let Will Owen in United Autosports #32 come close. But the order didn’t change. On the next lap, Owen tried to overtake Vergne but still without any luck.
Will Stevens in Panis Barthez Competition #23 tried to attack #32 – with four cars in between 1,2 seconds, there were plenty of actions.
Vergne did another late dive on Albuerquerque and took the lead, but he went a bit wide on the run off area. So the stewards might have to look at that.
#22 got under pressure from #23 for second place.
Inter Europol Competition #14 got a 10-second pitstop penalty due to track limits. United Autosports #2 got the same penalty for the same mistake.
BHK Motorsport #16 had a quick off track tour, but Francesco Dracone managed to stop the car before it hit the armco.
Krohn Racing Ferrari #83 got a drive-through penalty for a pitstop mistake.
Panis Barthez Competition #23 pitted so much quicker than G-Drive Racing #26, that #23 came out first. At the same time United Autorsports #22 retook the lead of the race after their last pitstop.
G-Drive Racing #26 got a 10-second pitstop penalty due to track limits, which could potentially send them out of the podium – but there was still half an hour to drive.
With 20 minutes left, a row of penalties were handed out. United Autosports #3, Cool Racing #4, AT Racing #9 and APR-Rebellion #31 all got 10-seconds time penalty.
Shortly afterwards, Dennis Andersen in High Class Racing #49 had a solo spin, on the way through the last corner. Luckily, he could recover but he fell back to ninth place in the class.
Cetilar Villorba Corsa #47 also had a solo spin.
United Autosports #3 got a drive-through penalty. This time for speeding under FCY.
DKR Engineering #8 had a solo spin, but they could continue without problems.
United Autosports #22 with Filipe Albuerquerque and Phil Hanson won the race, ahead of Panis Barthez Competition #23 and United Autosports 32. G-Drive Racing #26 finished third, but after the time penalty it brought them down to fourth place. That made it three Ligier cars on the podium.
Inter Europol Competition #13 with Martin Hippe and Jakub Smiechowski won LMP3, ahead of Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen #7 with Christian Stubbe Olsen, Alex Kapadia and Colin Noble, and United Autosports #2. There were also three Ligier cars on the podium.
Proton Competition Porsche #77 with Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Dennis Olsen won GTE in front of JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 and Proton Competition #88.
The LMP2 championship finished with G-Drive Racing #26 with Roman Rusinov and Alexander Pizzitola as champions, followed by Jean-Eric Vergne, who couldn’t drive the opening round due to his Formula E commitment. Racing Engineering #24 was the second best team with Norman Nato and Paul Petit. IDEC Sport #28 finished third.
RLR Msport #15 won the LMP3 championship with Job van Uitert, John Farano and Rob Garofall, ahead of Inter Europol Competition #13 with Martin Hippe and Jakub Smiechowski, while United Autosports #3 with Tony Well, Garret Grist and Matt Bell finished in third place.
Proton Competition Porsche #88 with Giorgio Roda and Gianluca Roda won the GTE championship, in front of JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 with Miguel Molina, Liam Griffin and Alex Macdowall, while Proton Competition Porsche #77 with Christian Ried, Dennis Olsen and Marvin Dienst finished third. It was, however, Matteo Cairoli who finished third on his own in the drivers’ championship, since he missed Monza in May.
That was the ending of 22 hours of racing in European Le Mans Series 2018. It was 22 hours of good racing, but we could’ve rounded 24 hours if the race at Spa didn’t get stopped halfway due to the weather.
ELMS 2019 will start at Paul Ricard in April, with two test days followed by the race weekend.