The four-hour race in Portimao, at Autodromo do Algarve was the last round in the European Le Mans Series 2021.
Only the LMP2 title had been decided before the race, while there were still champions who needed to be found in LMP3 and GTE, as well as who would finish second in LMP2 and thus secure a place at Le Mans 2022.
COOL Racing #37 with Charles Milesi, Nicolas Lapierre and Alexandre Coigny started the race from not just overall Pole Position but also the LMP2 Pro/Am category. Algarve Pro Racing #24 with Ferdinand Habsburg, Richard Bradley and Sophia Flörsch would start second, ahead of G-Drive Racing #26 with Nyck de Vries, Franco Colapinto and Roman Rusinov.
In LMP3, United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd, Rob Wheldon and Edouard Cauhaupe had taken Pole Position, ahead of Inter Europol Competition #13 with Ugo de Wilde, Martin Hippe and Adam Eteki, and with DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr and Mathieu De Barbuat in P3.
TF Sport Aston Martin #95 with Ross Gunn, John Hartshorne and Oliver Hancock had the GTE Pole, ahead of Gianmaria Bruni, Cooper MacNeil and Christian Ried in Proton Competition Porsche #77, while AF Corse Ferrari #88 with Alessio Rovera, Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard would start from the third position.
Unfortunately, Racing Team Turkey #34 couldn’t start the race after Salih Yoluc’s accident yesterday under free practice 2, where the chassis was cracked and couldn’t be repaired before the race.
There was a little chaos at the start but all forty cars could come through the first corner.
The lead in GTE changed right away when TF Sport Aston Martin #95 fell back and Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 took the lead, after a duel with AF Corse Ferrari #88.
RLR MSport #15 got hit by Eurointernational #11 in Turn 5, so Michael Benham dropped all the way behind the field, but luckily he could drive again without any damage to the car.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 had also gotten a fantastic start, where Sarah Bovy went all the way up to the second place, after a battle with AF Corse Ferrari #88.
There was an intense battle for the lead in LMP3, where United Autosports #2 and DKR Engineering #4 fought for many laps.
Bovy in #83 was unlucky to have a spin in Turn 1 since there was a lot of traffic around her. It was difficult to see if there was contact or not, but she could drive again.
After more than twenty minutes of battle, DKR Engineering #4 finally came out in front in the LMP3 category.
There was a Safety Car after the half an hour mark when Duqueine Team #30 lost their left rear tire, on the way out to the straight. The wheel broke off from the car, sending Memo Rojas in a wild spin, where he just kept turning around and round several times across the track. Behind him was poor Andreas Laskaratos in 1 AIM Villorba Corse #18, who tried to avoid him and was so focused on the spinning car that he completely missed the pit entry, and ploughed into the tire wall that protected the Armco. Luckily, both drivers were okay and could come out of the car by themselves, even though #18 was totally smashed.
The race director chose to stop the race, so the clean-up could be done thoroughly, since there was so much debris all over the track.
After twenty minutes of red flag, the track was cleaned and ready for the restart behind the Safety Car.
After two laps behind the SC, the race got restarted.
Sarah Bovy in Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 was on her toes at the restart and came up to second place in GTE by overtaking Francois Perrodo in AF Corse Ferrari #88.
United Autosports #2 fought themselves back up in the LMP3 lead, braking against DKR Engineering #4 down the hill towards Turn 5, where the two cars scrapped sides, but it wasn’t something the stewards were interested in.
The two leading LMP2 cars were the first to pit for fuel. After they pitted, Phil Hanson in United Autosports #22 took the lead from Team WRT #41.
COOL Racing #37 had some problems closing the door after changing Charles Milesi with Alexandre Coigny.
After all LMP2 cars had pitted, it was United Autosports 1-2 with #22 ahead of #32, while Panis Racing #65 was third.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 had a spin when Claudio Schiavoni was a bit too eager on the speeder.
AF Corse Ferrari #88 was faster in servicing their car than Iron Lynx Ferrari #83. In fact, #83 also lost a position to AF Corse Ferrari #61 due to their slower pitstop. #61, however, hadn’t changed tires. It wasn’t long before Bovy went past Franck Dezoteux.
Eurointernational went off the track in Turn 1 but quickly came back.
United Autosports #2 and Inter Europol Competition #13 had a close duel for second place in the LMP3 category – a duel that ended with #2 as the winner.
Two hours into the race, United Autosports #22 was leading the LMP2 category, Ultimate #29 in LMP2 Pro/Am, DKR Engineering #4 in LMP3, and Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 in GTE.
There was contact between Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 and DKR Engineering #4. The latter got off with a warning and nothing more.
United Autosports #32 and G-Drive Racing #26 had a duel for second place in LMP2.
The two Proton Competition cars fought for P2 in GTE.
G-Drive Racing #26 got a Drive-through for Track Limits.
JMW Motorsport Ferrari #66 had a spin, but luckily they didn’t get hit by incoming traffic from behind.
There was contact between Inter Europol Competition #14 and RLR MSport #15. It was the second time today that Michael Benham got hit. He pitted and handed over the car to Malthe Jakobsen. The team was ordered to repair the rear of the car since their tail light was damaged under the contact. Shortly afterwards, Jakobsen had to pit again due to more damage on the rear suspension. It took half an hour before they came back out.
Michelle Gatting had taken over Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 and impressively overtook Proton Competition Porsche #77 for third place in GTE.
Nielsen Racing #7 had to be pushed into the garage as the team had problems with the engine. It took a bit over twenty minutes before they were back on the track.
There was contact between United Autosports #3 and Team WRT #41, which sent #3 around in a spin.
The stewards began to lose patience with the drivers and handed them various penalties for track limits. United Autosports #2 and #3, Racing Experience #12, Iron Lynx Ferrari #60, AF Corse Ferrari #88 all got a Drive-through.
There was contact between United Autosports #32 and BHK Motorsport #35, where Job van Uitert in #32 hit Markus Pommer from behind, turning him around in a big spin. #32 got the short end of the straw and had to be pushed back into the garage for repairs.
Richard Lietz in Proton Competition Porsche #93 had caught up with Matteo Cressoni in Iron Lynx Ferrari #80, and from there it was an intense duel for the lead in the GTE category.
AF Corse Ferrari #88 kept abusing track limits, and since they already got a drive-through, the penalty this time was a Stop & Go.
After many laps of the duel, Proton Competition Porsche #93 finally managed to take the lead in the GTE category.
United Autosports #32 got a 5-second pitstop penalty, for the contact with BHK Motorsport #35.
Michelle Gatting handed over Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 to Rahel Frey, from a nice P3, less than ten seconds from the class leader. It showed how fast the Dane was, to still be able to be in that position after the two spins that Bovy did earlier in the race. But credit to Bovy, too, who drove well when there was nothing in her way.
The lead in GTE changed again due to the next round of pitstops, where Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 came out ahead of Proton Competition Porsche #93 again. Felipe Laser, however, kept putting Miguel Molina in #80 under pressure.
COOL Racing #37 went off the track when Charles Milesi outbraked himself, but it wasn’t anything serious.
DKR Engineering #4 got ordered to repair their tail light in their next pitstop. The problem was that they hadn’t planned more pitstop, since they had refuelled to the end.
United Autosport #32 got a Drive-through for Track Limits.
There was contact between Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 and Inter Europol Competition #13 in Turn 11. It caused some damage to the rear of #83, and the stewards began investigating the incident. They chose to give #83 a Drive-through for the contact. But it wasn’t enough to send them out of P3.
Team Virage #20 got a Drive-through for Track Limits. A few minutes later, TF Sport Aston Martin #95 got the same penalty, for the same offence. It cost the latter one position in the GTE category.
COOL Racing #19 finished the season with a Drive-through penalty due to Track Limits.
United Autosports #22 with Tom Gamble, Phil Hanson and Jonathan Aberdein won the race, ahead of Team WRT #41 with Robert Kubica, Yifei Ye and Louis Deletraz, while Algarve Pro Racing #24 with Ferdinand Habsburg, Sophia Flörsch and Richard Bradley finished third.
COOL Racing #37 with Nicolas Lapierre, Charles Milesi and Alexandre Coigny won LMP2 Pro/Am, ahead of Gustavo Menezes, Rui Andrade and John Falb in G-Drive Racing #25, and Ultimate #29 with Matthieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Gianluca Giraudi in P3.
The LMP3 category was won by DKR Engineering #4 with Laurents Hörr and Mathieu De Barbuat, ahead of Inter Europol Competition #13 with Ugo de Wilde, Martin Hippe and Adam Eteki, while United Autosports #2 with Wayne Boyd, Rob Wheldon and Edouard Cauhaupe finished in third place.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 with Miguel Molina, Matteo Cressoni and Rino Mastronardi won the GTE category, ahead of Proton Competition Porsche #93 with Felipe Laser, Richard Lietz and Michael Fassbender, while Iron Lynx Ferrari #83 with Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey finished third.
In the championship, Team WRT #41 with Robert Kubica, Yifei Ye and Louis Deletraz were the LMP2 champions, ahead of today’s winner from United Autosports #22 with Phil Hanson, Tom Gamble and Jonathan Aberdein, while Panis Racing #65 with Julien Canal and Will Stevens beat G-Drive Racing #26 with a half point, in the battle for P3.
The LMP2 Pro/Am championship was won by G-Drive Racing #25 with John Falb and Rui Andrade, ahead of COOL Racing #37 with Nicolas Lapierre and Alexandre Coigny, and Ultimate #29 with the brothers Jean-Baptiste and Matthieu Lahaye in P3.
DKR Engineering #4 is the champion in LMP3 with Laurents Hörr, ahead of COOL Racing #19 with Matt Bell, Niklas Krütten, and Nicolas Maulini, while United Autosports #2 with Rob Wheldon, Edouard Cauhaupe and Wayne Boyd finished third.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 is the champion in GTE with Matteo Cressoni, Miguel Molina and Rino Mastronardi, ahead of Spirit of Race Ferrari #55 with David Perel and Duncan Cameron, while AF Corse Ferrari #88 with Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera and Emmanuel Collard is in the third position.
That was the ending of a terrific European Le Mans Series 2021 season. There had been plenty of good races, cool duels, and not the least positive and negative surprises.
Now the ELMS series will go on a break until April 2022, where the season starts at Paul Ricard in the south of France.
After the race, three penalties were handed out. Graff #39 got a Stop & Go, because Maxime Robin didn’t do his minimum driving time. The same penalty went to Eurointernational #11, where Mattia Drudi didn’t drive long enough.
But the most serious one went to DKR Engineering #4, who lost their victory due to the lack of tail light. The team got warned about it and still drove without the essential, obligatory light in forty-five minutes. They got a 30-second Stop & Go. COOL Racing #19 also got the same penalty for the same offence.
The similarity between the four penalties was that they got converted into one-minute and five-second penalties, since the race was done and they couldn’t do the penalties anymore.
It meant that Inter Europol Competition #13 won the LMP3 category, ahead of United Autosports #2, while Graff #9 with Mathias Kaiser and Rory Penttinen got promoted to third place.
Luckily, it didn’t change the championships since both DKR Engineering #4 and COOL Racing #19 had a big gap between them and their competitors.