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» The extremely bumped nature of the circuit had the Dallara P217 bouncing around in a fashion similar to Spa. The Dallara seems particularly prone to this ‘porpoising’ phenomena. Despite this, it wasn’t a bad result for the Dallara runners. SMP finished third, and Cetilar Villobra Corse were fifth. The bouncing doesn’t seem to affect the lap time much.
» Although not as bad as the Dallara, the Ligier JS P217 could also be seen bouncing over the bumps. The only car seemingly unaffected was the Oreca 07.
» The high speed corners of Portimao appeared to increase tyre wear. Dunlop brought a “Medium Plus” GTE tyre to the race, but the LMP2 class used the standard compounds. The Dallara suffered a significant degradation in lap times towards the end of the stint. The Dallara may be light on fuel useage, but it appears to be heavy on tyre wear.
LMP2 – Another G-Drive title, different team
» United Autosports had to overcome an 18 point deficit to G-Drive by DragonSpeed Racing. The gap was large, but not impossible. United Autosports had the outright pace to win, but it appears G-Drive did not. Fourth was enough to take the title, but it wasn’t as comfortable as expected.
» United Autosports made their intentions clear right from the green flag. Hugo de Sadeleer went from 5th to 1st within the first 2 minutes and immediately set about building a lead. United’s only chance to take the title was win, and they knew it.
» The chance of a United victory was ended by a 55 second stop and go for speeding in the pit lane. United were not the only team to receive penalties throughout the weekend.
» DragonSpeed continued with the experiment of starting Henrick Hedman, their amateur driver, in the car for the first stint. Unfortunately Hedman made contact with the #28 IDEC Sport car and became beached in the gravel. The car had lost two laps by the time it was recovered.
» Graff overcame issues with the fuel tank on their way to victory. The team were unable to use the last 20 litres of the tank, reducing the 75 litre capacity to 55 litres. This forced the team to run flat out to make up the time required for an extra stop. Good strategy and well timed FCY periods assisted this.
» During the first FCY period, the majority of the lead LMP2 cars pitted. The one major exception was the SMP Dallara which stayed out. SMP made a green flag stop 10 minutes later, costing a significant chunk of time. Did this decision cost them the race?
» Track limits played their part in the race. The #39 Graff Racing Oreca received a drive through, whilst the #49 High Class Racing Dallara racked up two. Others, including the #32 United Autosports car, received black and white warning flags.
» 2017 is the second ELMS LMP2 title in a row for the G-Drive brand, but not for the current team. The 2016 ELMS G-Drive entry was run by Jota Sport, and the 2017 entry by DragonSpeed. To make things a little more confusing, the 2017 WEC G-Drive entry is run by TDS Racing. Who knows what Roman Rusinov will do for 2018?
LMP3 – All about United
» Despite the bad qualifying, United Autosports dominated the LMP3 class. The #3 took its first victory of the year, and the #2 finished second, easily enough to secure the LMP3 championship. United claim their second LMP3 title in a row.
» No other LMP3 team appeared to be able to challenge the United Autosports pair. AT Racing had a turn leading, and M.Racing YMR were always near the front. But once United had cleared the majority of the field, they were untouchable at the head of the class.
» #10 Oregon had the roughest time in LMP3. Toni Forné spun the GTE leader, receiving a penalty for his troubles. A couple of offs then followed, before ending up stopped on circuit with 2 hours to go.
» Like the Dallara P217, the Norma M30 appeared most affected by the bumpy circuit. The car was visibly difficult to drive, suffering the most in corners that had a bumpy apex. It is the first time in a while that the Norma was unable to challenge the Ligier JSP3.
GTE – What a turn around
» Perhaps the biggest fairy tale of the year is the JMW team. In 2016, Jim McWhirter’s team had his Le Mans entry and classic #66 number given to the Ford factory team. At ELMS finale, an almost certain title was cruelly snatched away by a rare Ferrari 458 gearbox failure. For 2017, JMW returned to Le Mans and took a class victory. They continued on to take the ELMS GTE title, securing two automatic entries to Le Mans 2018.
» Proton Competition recovered from an early race incident to a race victory. The #77 was tipped into a spin by the #10 Oregon LMP3 in the opening hour of the race. The #77 had no issue climbing back up the order, eventually taking a comfortable lead.
» Despite Dunlop bringing a harder set of tyres, Aston Martin were uncompetitive all weekend. It was suspected the new Dunlops would suit the Vantage, but they weren’t able to make up the difference. Nicki Thiim put the lack of pace down to high speed corners and lack of top speed.
» Spirit of Race suffered an uncharacteristic double retirement at Portimao. The #51 suffered a puncture, caused in an incident with an LMP3 Ligier. The #55 stopped with smoke emanating from the right bank of cylinders. Both cars would eventually retire.