Season-long title contenders Dolan, Tincknell & Albuquerque finish second in prestigious championship.
JOTA Sport has registered its best-ever final placing in the prestigious European Le Mans Series after finishing third in the fifth and final round in Portugal today (19 Oct).
Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Filipe Albuquerque combined to record the British team’s fourth top-four result of the season – their Dunlop-shod JOTA Sport Zytek finishing 43.713-seconds behind the winning car in the Four Hours of Estoril.
Their third place today together with first, second and fourth place finishes plus four “pole” positions in ELMS races earlier this season, earns JOTA second in the final standings – agonisingly missing out on the Series “crown” by just four-points. JOTA had lay second in the title race since the second race in May.
Locking up at Turn 7 has ultimately cost us the championship title.
While JOTA Sport won the LMP2 category in the Le Mans 24 Hours four months ago, this marks JOTA’s best-ever championship position since its formation 14 years ago having finished third last year.
Tincknell claimed his third and the team’s fourth ELMS pole-position of the season in qualifying around the 13-corner, 2.6-mile Estoril circuit near Lisbon earlier on race day. Harry, in scintillating form, stopped the clock 0.713s ahead of the second fastest car – four of his seven laps being sub 1m 30s.
Albuquerque began the race staged in front of an enthusiastic “home” crowd under warm sunshine, the “factory” Audi Sport loaned driver setting a blistering early pace with a series of fastest race laps.
Filipe handed the Dunlop-shod JOTA Sport Zytek over to Dolan with a 22secs lead on 50mins but Simon spun as a brake gremlin set in.
Following the second scheduled pit-stops for the 35-car field in which the JOTA Zytek took on new tyres and re-fuelled, Dolan lay third at mid-distance – 20secs off the lead.
Tincknell took over with 46mins remaining placed fourth – Simon having lost time due to a worsening brake issue which, at one point, caused him to go straight on at Turn 7.
Harry, who celebrates his 23rd birthday later this month (29 Oct), moved into third place with 20mins remaining and finished just 8.314s behind the second-placed car.
Quotes after race
Simon Dolan (GB). Age 45. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC): “I’ve mixed feelings about my stint – both good and frustrating due to the brake issues. The front left brake was snatching causing me to lock up several times.
“Locking up at Turn 7 has ultimately cost us the championship title. We could and should have won today but that’s motor racing. And looking back on the year, it’s been without doubt my most exciting season. From the lows of Silverstone in April to the highs of winning Le Mans in June and now claiming second place in the ELMS against teams with far more experienced drivers than me onboard, has to make me proud.”
Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 22. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB): “Overall we had a solid if difficult race with our brake problems and although third place wasn’t good enough for us to win the championship, to record another podium after I’d claimed pole, is a fantastic achievement in my first season of sportscar racing.
“My intention this year was to make a name for myself in sportscars and I got that off to a great start by recording pole-position by over one second in the opening race at Silverstone. Second place on my World Sportscar Championship race debut [Spa], winning the LMP2 category in my maiden Le Mans 24 Hours and now finishing second in the ultra-competitive ELMS championship in my ‘rookie’ season is incredible and I believe a job well done.
“I’ve adapted quickly to the different elements that are required compared to single-seater racing. I’ve become a team player and thoroughly enjoy this aspect of the sport.”
Filipe Albuquerque (P). Age 29. Born & Lives: Coimbra (P): “An incredible race with so many things happening which is the beauty of endurance racing. We just missed out on the championship title but that’s racing. I had a good stint and handed over the car with a good lead but then Simon was delayed by worsening brake issues.
“It is tricky to overtake at Estoril, an old fashioned kind of circuit but I’m certain everyone had fun here. My ‘home’ crowd was amazing today – they made me very proud.”
Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group: “Unfortunately a brake issue compromised us from early on. While each of the drivers managed it well, it obviously affected our optimum pace. Additionally, much of the field including us had high tyre degradation that compounded our issues.
“Although to just miss out on winning ELMS is disappointing, we did achieve four ‘poles’ plus four top-four including three podiums and a win and so we just have to come back in 2015 and do better! It’s a fantastic achievement for our team this year who have all worked incredibly hard.”
Rd5 18-19 October Estoril, JOTA Sport result
Free Practice 1: 1m 33.434s (P2, Albuquerque), +0.053s (lap 22 of 37)
Free Practice 2: 1m 31.455s (P2, Tincknell), +0.033s (lap 36 of 39)
Qualifying: 1m 29.497s (P1, Tincknell) on lap 4 of 7
Race: 3rd, +43.713s
Final Championship standings: Driver’s 2nd, 74pts (Dolan/Tincknell/Albuquerque). Teams’ 2nd, 74pts.