The curtain comes down on the ELMS season with a class victory for the M.Racing

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Onroak Automotive Press Release– 25.10.2016
ELMS – Estoril 4 Hours – final round

The curtain comes down on the ELMS season with a class victory for the M.Racing YMR Ligier JS P3!

This weekend Estoril hosted the final round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series. The intensity of this last joust had nothing to envy those of the five previous ones. During the four-hour event on the technical 4.182-km Portuguese circuit all 36 cars went at it hammer and tongs leading to a race in which the battle never let up, in particular because of the traffic and conditions made difficult by the weather! The final meeting saw M. Racing YMR’s first victory in the ELMS, its young driver Thomas Laurent, winning the best rookie title and Mike Guasch clinching the best Gentleman Driver award in addition to the LM P3 title won by his team-mates and United Autosports.

Olivier Pla was shown the chequered flag before his main rivals at the end of the 10-minute LM P2 qualifying session on a drying track, and was unable to do another lap in which he would probably have clinched a place on the front row in the no. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan-Dunlop. The Ligier JS P2 in the famous green livery started in fourth place and quickly became part of the leading trio, but changing the rear bodywork because a rain light wasn’t working, followed by contact with another car at the end of the race meant that the American team finished just shy of the podium.

IDEC Sport Racing ended their first season in the LM P2 category in sixth place at Estoril with the no. 28 Ligier JS P2-Judd-Michelin after four hours racing, their best performance of the year.
They crossed the finishing line in front of the no. 23 Ligier JS P2-Nissan-Michelin entered by Panis Barthez Competition. Even though the French outfit was on the front row after a superb performance in qualifying, it had to make do with seventh place at the flag due to a spin in the early stages and a 2-minute penalty for changing the engine during the event.
The no. 41 Ligier JS P2-Nissan-Dunlop run by Greaves Motorsport failed to finish due to an engine problem.

Pegasus Racing brought the no. 8 Morgan LM P2-Nissan-Michelin home in eighth place in the Estoril 4 Hours, although the car was finally excluded following an analysis of the fuel. While it was the final outing of the Onroak Automotive Morgan LM P2 in the European Le Mans Series, teams can still run this car in the Asian Le Mans Series for the next three seasons.

Finally, Algarve Pro Racing did not take part in this event on its home turf as the Portuguese team’s Ligier JS P2 had already left for China to race in the first round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Zhuhai this coming weekend.

At Estoril, there was a new winner in the LM P3 category. The M.Racing YMR team, which started the race in ninth place in the category, scored its maiden victory in the European Le Mans Series with its no. 18 Ligier JS P3. This success was helped by the great job done by a trio of young drivers Yann Ehrlacher– Alexandre Cougnaud–Thomas Laurent, and the latter was rewarded with the title of the ELMS « Rookie of the year »! After three wins on the trot by the no. 2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 followed by two by the no. 9 run by Graff, Yvan Muller’s team added its name to the list of victors in LM P3 in the 2016 European Le Mans Series.
Joining Muller’s drivers on the podium were those in the no. 3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 and Graff’s no. 9. Thanks to finishing third the French outfit consolidated its second place in the 2016 LM P3 general classification.

Thus, the championship-winning team, whose two cars locked out the front row in LM P3 in qualifying on Saturday, has had at least one of its cars on the six LM P3 podiums this season even though the no. 2 Ligier JS P3 driven by the champions finished the final in 11th place after a spin and a collision with a GT.

The nos 19 and 20 Ligier JS P3s run by Duqueine Engineering qualified on row 2 in LM P3, but failed to meet with the same success in the race as in practice. However, the French squad clinched third place in the ELMS LM P3 general classification.

The Panis Barthez Competition team had a disappointing weekend as the French squad’s no. 16 Ligier JS P3 was forced to retire due to clutch issues.

360 Racing rounded out the top 5 in the LM P3 teams’ general classification behind the United Autosports no. 3 Ligier JS P3. The English outfit failed to score points this weekend as a collision with another car led to its retirement after only 82 laps.

Thus, the 2016 European Le Mans Series came to an end yesterday evening at Estoril with the prize-giving ceremony rewarding United Autosports, winner of the European Le Mans Series LM P3 Trophy, as well as their drivers Alex Brundle, Christian Englang, and Mike Guash who won the ELMS « Gentleman Driver of the year » award!

LM P3 entrants who wish to run a European programme next year will be able to choose between two race formats by invitation. Teams can race in 4-hour events in the European Le Mans Series and also in 2-hour races by taking part in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which will have an LM P3 category in 2017.

Jacques Nicolet: “We’ve enjoyed an incredible European Le Mans Series, and I’d like to thank the organisers, Le Mans Management and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. The calendar and the race formats were a great success with the teams as proved by the forty or so cars at every one of the six rounds. I’d also like to thank all the teams who entered our cars in this particularly hotly-contested championship. In LM P2 eight teams* put their trust in us by running our sports prototypes in this category, some for the first time. We were up against top-class rivals so it was a huge challenge. Concerning LM P3 I can’t help feeling very proud to have been able to assemble such a field throughout the season. Around fifteen teams** ran one or two Ligier JS P3s providing the spectators with very exciting racing. I would like to congratulate them. And in particular, I’d like to congratulate United Autosports and their drivers for the 2016 LM P3 title with, as the icing on the cake, the title of Gentleman Driver of the Year for Mike Guasch. Graff and Duqueine Engineering, who completed the trio in the overall classification in LM P3, also had a fantastic season even if they probably deserved more success on certain occasions. The professionalism and the sportsmanlike conduct by all the Ligier JS P3 teams throughout the season were a great source of satisfaction for me.
“Last Sunday, the 2016 ELMS season came to an end at Estoril, but racing is continuing this weekend with the opening round of the Asian Le Mans Series on the Zhuhai circuit followed by the FIA WEC the following week in Shanghai! I know after the succession of announcements made for 2017, that we’re going to have another thrilling season.
“Just a few words about our Ligier JS P217, which is continuing its development this week at Estoril after three days at Portimao. We have already covered over 4000 km accompanied by all our partners.”

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