The 4 Hours of Portimao signified the end of my first LMP3 season in the European Le Mans Series. Unfortunately, the race didn’t go as we’d hoped but that’s part of racing. In the end, we ended the championship in fourth place, which was mainly the result of a very strong first half of the season. The second half is best described as ‘character building’.
A promising start
The test on Wednesday, a preparation for the coming weekend, went very well. My teammate and I ended up in third and fourth place and I was matching the more experienced drivers around me quite well and I was very happy with that. On Friday and Saturday, we saved our tyres and ran a limited amount of laps. It all looked very promising.
In qualifying we had our first setback. My teammate Giorgio Mondini had a flat left front and spun, which brought in the red flag. Our car was brought back to the pits and the team drove it in the box. In the ELMS, that’s only permitted after the chequered flag has been waved. It meant disqualification and a start from last place.
A fine first stint
Starting an ELMS race from position 39 is not easy. You’re absolutely on the back of the field and you’ll need to pass the GT’s first. I did the start and we started the race on the same tyres we had in qualifying with – of course – a new front left. That upset the balance a bit in the first laps but after a while it got better and I could find some great pace. I managed to climb up from 39th to 17th, 18th to sixth in our class. I could attack, overtake a lot of cars and I was enjoying myself a lot.
An early exit
Giorgio took over the wheel and in the first half hour he managed to pick up some more places. After 30 minutes however, he came into contact with a backmarker. This destroyed our suspension and ended our race. It also ended our chance of finishing in the top three of the championship. That’s a shame because especially in the first half of the season, things were looking very good. But let’s look at it from a different perspective: this season, I’ve learned so much. I’ve driven a couple of good races and when things didn’t go our way, I’ve always managed to make something positive out of it.
The season has ended an I’d like to thank Euroointernational for a wonderful season. Now, it’s time to look at the future and I can assure you that very soon, I’ll be able to share some good news!