The 2017 European Le Mans Series saw plenty of on track action at each of the six events held during the six month long season starting in the UK at Silverstone in April and concluding in Portugal at Portimão in October.
The fifth season since the 2013 relaunch saw two new venues added to the calendar with Monza replacing Imola for the Italian round in May and Portimão becoming the new venue for the season finale, replacing Estoril.
Once again each event was held over three days, with the exception of Silverstone where the ELMS raced on the same billing as the FIA World Endurance Championship to offer the fans a super weekend of endurance racing.
The Michelin Le Mans Cup, which now featured GT3 and LMP3 cars on the grid, became the main support race for the ELMS at five of the six venues starting at Monza. Other series that joined the ELMS Weekends included the World Series Formula V8 3.5, the TCR International Series and the Formula Renault Eurocup. This provided the thousands of fans who travelled to each event some great racing action covering endurance, single seater and touring car racing.
Grids continued to be large in 2017 with 35 cars being entered across the three classes.
LMP2: G-Drive Racing Champions for Second Year
Memo Rojas and Leo Roussel secured the 2017 European Le Mans Series Driver’s Championship in the no22 G-Drive Racing Oreca07-Gibson after a season long battle with a high quality LMP2 grid that saw four different winners in the six 4-hour races held this season.
2017 marked a new era for the LMP2 category with three different manufacturers – Oreca, Ligier and Dallara - all powered by the same, more powerful, Gibson engine. At the end of the season Oreca had won three, Ligier two and Dallara one of the ELMS races, aptly demonstrating the stability of the new technical regulations that produced some of the best racing anywhere in the world.
LMP3: United Autosports Does the Double with Falb and Rayhall
In 2016 Anglo-American team United Autosports won the European Le Mans Series LMP3 Team and Driver titles at the first attempt. In 2017 they returned to defend their team crown and they did so in fine form with American pairing Sean Rayhall and John Falb securing the title by finishing second in the season finale in Portimão.
Against a strong 17 car entry the 2017 season got off to a great start with the no2 Ligier JS P3-Nissan winning the opening round at Silverstone with the American duo adding a second win at Le Castellet. Three more podiums were added, including a charge from the back of the grid to third place in Belgium, but they had to wait until the final race of the season in Portugal to be confirmed as 2017 champions.
LMGTE: A Dream Season for JMW Motorsport
In 2016 it was heartbreak in the JMW Motorsport garage when a technical issue robbed the team of the ELMS titles. Fast forward 12 months and the mood was the exact opposite as the 2017 season concluded with the team lifting the ELMS Team’s trophy, while Rob Smith and Jody Fannin secured the ELMS Driver’s crown. This was in addition to the win at the race that every competitor dreams of winning, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The LMGTE class consisted of six high class entries and provided some of the best racing action throughout the 2017 season. The season finale saw the top two teams split by a single point and the top three by just eleven and the destination of the 2017 ELMS titles went right to the final chequered flag of the season.