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Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography

2018 Champions Are Honoured in Portugal

ELMS - 29/10/2018

After a hard fought 2018 European Le Mans Series season the competitors gathered at the Centro de Congresso do Arade in Lagoa near Portimão for a glittering prize giving ceremony to honour the new European champions.

For the third year running the LMP2 trophy will bear the name ‘G-Drive Racing’, with Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola joining a very select group of drivers who have added ‘ELMS Champion’ to their racing CV.  Jean-Eric Vergne finished the season as Vice Champion after completing five of the six races with Rusinov and Pizzitola but the 2018 FIA Formula E Champion missed the opening round in Le Castellet. 

As well as being declared champions, G-Drive Racing also receive an automatic invitation to the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The LMP3 title went down to the wire here in Portugal with Job Van Uitert, John Farano and Rob Garofall  in the no15 RLR MSport Ligier-Nissan taking the 2018 title in the largest category in the ELMS.  Their road to the title was a rough one, but they prevailed taking two wins in France and Austria along the way.  RLR MSports place on the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans grid is also guaranteed should they wish to enter the LMP2 category.

Like the LMP3 title, the LMGTE category went down to the wire in Portimao, with the no88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 of Giorgio and Gianluca Roda taking the title in dramatic style and becoming the first father and son to win an ELMS title together.  Matteo Cairoli, who joined the Rodas for five of the six races finishes third.

In addition to the champions, some special awards were made to recognise some special contributions made by people in the ELMS paddock.

The Team of the Year award was made to Spanish team Racing Engineering.  In a category full of the best endurance teams and driver, Racing Engineering made their LMP2 debut at Le Castellet. The Spanish outfit went on to win their first race with French trio Olivier Pla, Norman Nato and Paul Petit.  A further podium followed in Austria and the no24 Oreca has always been at the sharp end of the grid all season.

The Woman of the Year award went to Ultimate’s race engineer Marie-Alice Lahaye.  The French engineer was an essential part of the young team’s three pole positions and podium finish in LMP3.

The Man of the Year award for 2018 was presented to Gilles Duqueine for his action in the ELMS paddock this season.

The Rookie of the Year award was probably the most difficult to decide but young Dutch driver Job Van Uitert was an obvious candidate for the 2018 award.  In his first ELMS season Van Uitert helped steer RLR MSport to the 2018 LMP3 title with two victories and a second place at Spa along the way.

The Gentleman of the Year award recognises the valuable contribution made by the amateur drivers on the ELMS grid.  The recipient of the 2018 awad was Terrence Woodward who, alongside fellow British driver Ross Kaiser, challenged for the LMP3 title all season with 360 Racing, taking two podium finishes in 2018.

The European Le Mans Series will be back in 2019, with six rounds on six of the best circuits in Europe starting at Le Castellet in April.

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