European Le Mans and Le Mans Cup end their season in Portimao with a great chance for Spirit of Leman GT3 crew

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


It’s another extremely busy race weekend around Europe, as another six series do battle once again– some conclude their 2023 season this weekend – some restart their 2023 season and others have to race twice within just a matter of a few days!

The European headlining series will of course have to be the European Le Mans Series which will conclude their 2023 endeavours this weekend but not before their full season entry has raced around the Portuguese circuit in Portimao not once, but twice this weekend as they make up for a race lost during the summer due to major redevelopment at the circuit.

Running quite the alien timetable that most would note for this ACO rules series sees the forty strong multi-class entry list which includes the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE crews from both TF Sport and GMB Motorsport, all see a track timetable that starts tomorrow (Wednesday) with the first of the private testing sessions. Track action then becomes a little more formal moving forward as the entry prepare to race the opening 4Hrs Algarve into the night race on Friday before having to repeat most ahead of the 4Hrs Portimao on Sunday.

Unfortunately for all three Aston Martin crews, there will be no championship winning celebrations this time around after another ‘difficult’ series visit to Spa Francorchamps which saw the Danish #44 GMB car fail to finish after an outlap crash for the young Gustav Birch after a great opening stint from Jens Moller and Nicki Thiim whilst the all-French #72 TF Sport crew of Max and Arnold Robin with Valentin Hasse-Clot ‘struggled’ with both inter team and inter brand contact that kept losing them time for a P6 finish at the end.

The #95 TF Sport AMR of John Hartshorne, Jonny Adam and Ben Tuck was also never on the pace as they eventually mopped up the last of the available Championship points with a P9 finish but that result still leaves the #95 crew the best placed AMR crew in twelfth, with the #72 now just behind and the #44 sadly at the foot of the table still.

Latest information shows that the Vantage GTE platform will get a final BoP break with an additional two litre fuel capacity and increase in boost pressure across the range. A little late for Championship hopes but at least that may allow this GTE platform to go out on something of a high.

Joining them in Portugal for just one more round will be the LMP3 and GT3 cars of the Michelin Le Mans Cup Series, which happily this time sees the #10 Racing Spirit of Leman AMR of Arnold Robin and Valentin Hasse-Clot remain in front in class after the previous round at Spa Francorchamps.

Despite a major hic-up during Qualifying last time out in Belgium that saw the #10 fail to refire in the pitlane after an outlap crash for another competitor which brought out yet another red flag, the French duo did eventually come home in fifth after a late time penalty added five seconds to their race time after a miscalculation on driver time ‘forced’ Robin to drive extra-ordinarily slowly into pit lane for their compulsory stop.

“Getting away’ with those issues in Belgium has left the crew twelve points clear at the top of the GT3 Drivers Champiosnhip but with twenty-six points still available for both Pole Position in Qualifying and the class win, things are far from safe for the French duo as another three crews line up behind them to take their chances should they stumble at the final hurdle.

All three races will be exciting to watch with all three again visible to watch live via the series media channels.

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