AutosEuropean Le Mans series ends with mixed results for Inter Europol. Team weathered storms and strategy mishaps in Portugal

European Le Mans series ends with mixed results for Inter Europol. Team weathered storms and strategy mishaps in Portugal

Illustrative photo
Illustrative photo
Images source: © Press materials | IEC
10:44 PM EST, January 17, 2024

The weather forecast turned out to be spot on. It foreshadowed rainy and cloudy conditions during the European Le Mans Series' final weekend, and predictably, the first hour of the ultimate race was interrupted by a red flag, following a few laps behind the safety car. When the race finally got underway, it unfolded into a notably enthralling spectacle. The events ran largely trouble-free for the two Inter Europol Competition crews, and the LMP3 #13 and LMP2 #43 crews finished fourth in their respective divisions.

After the training sessions on Saturday, a dry track qualifying session was held. In this session, Kai Askey secured a sixth pole position in the LMP3 class, while Olli Caldwell ranked fifth in the LMP2.

The race was truncated from the originally intended four hours to three due to a postponed start and subsequent interruption. In the Ligier LMP3 #13 prototype, Miguel Cristóvão rapidly advanced to second place, contending for the lead in the race alongside competitors in a similar car #11. A key role was played by strategy, with the rivals opting for a lengthier halt at the race's inception, whereas the #13 crew took their long stop towards the end.

Regrettably, the strategy did not fully pay off. Initially, Miguel moved to the front, followed by a lead from Kai Askey. Wyatt Brichacek took over prototype #13 for the final shift. Still, after an extended final pit stop, he returned to the track in fifth place and then managed to climb one position before the checkered flag was waved.

Parallelly, the LMP2 #43 trio of Rui Andrade, Olli Caldwell, and Jonathan Aberdein encountered a similar situation. The drivers demonstrated impressive pace at varying stages of the weekend, but the race day ended in slight disappointment as they, too, had to be content with a fourth-place finish.

The preceding race on Friday is one the team would rather leave behind, despite Miguel's stellar performance, leading in the LMP3 class during his two runs. A harsh encounter with the curb later in the race resulted in a crack in the clutch housing, causing an oil leak onto the hot exhaust system.

After putting out the fire, the team had to perform extensive repairs on car #13 until late into the night. Meanwhile, the yellow-green prototype #43 lost significant time during the first run, and later, the crew received a time penalty for breaching driver stint regulations, which relegated them to the back of the field.

The Michelin Le Mans Cup season concluded with the first points for #15 teams Chris Short / Bryson Morris and #13 Ben Stone / Santi Concepcion. The race began with a light drizzle, which eventually escalated into a heavy downpour. Unlike the penultimate round at Spa-Francorchamps, the race in Portimão showcased a great deal of good racing until the 31st lap, when it was neutralized, leading it to culminate 30 minutes ahead of schedule eventually.

The Inter Europol Competition team is now en-route to Bahrain, where the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is set to occur on November 4.

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