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ELMS Season Finale: championship review

ELMS - 06/10/2016

The sixth and final round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series promises plenty of on track action to finish the season in style. With four of the six titles still to be won there is going to be drama and excitement but on top of that all of the teams and drivers will be wanting to finish their season on a high note, so expect the battle for the podium to be fierce here at the Autodromo do Estoril.

With 14 points separating them, the LMP2 team title race is between the no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca (92 points) and the no38 G-Drive Racing Gibson (78 points), while Mathias Beche and Pierre Thiriet will be fighting it out with Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo Van der Garde for the 2016 drivers’ crown.  Beche and Thiriet’s teammate Ryo Hirakawa missed the race in Le Castellet in August and so can’t win the drivers’ championship but the Japanese driver will be looking to help his teammates to become champions.  

With 26 points still available, the no32 SMP Racing BR01 is still mathematically in the running for the teams’ title, with drivers Andreas Wirth and Stefano Coletti 24 points behind the leaders.  As well as becoming European Champions, the winner of the 2016 ELMS title will also be guaranteed a place on the grid at the 2017 24 Heures du Mans next June.

Spa race winners Nico Lapierre, Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman might not be in contention for the title in the no21 Dragonspeed Oreca, but the American team have tasted the victory champagne once and will be eager to do the same again in Portugal.

In LMP3, the titles are already decided in favour of the no2 United Autosport Ligier of Alex Brundle, Mike Guasch and Christian England, the final showdown will be to see who can finish the 2016 as Vice Champions and see who can stand on the top step of the podium for the final ELMS event in Estoril.

The battle for the LMP3 vice Champions position is between the no9 Graff Ligier, the winners from Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps, and the no19 Duqueine Engineering Ligier.  The two French teams are split by 18 points, with the Graff trio of Enzo Guibbert, Paul Petit and Eric Trouillet looking to make it a hat-trick of wins in Portugal.

The LMGTE drivers’ and teams’ titles will also be decided in Estoril.  There are two teams still in the running with triple race winners Andrea Bertolini, Rob Smith and Rory Butcher in the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari leading the class by 20 points ahead of the no99 Aston Martin Racing crew of Andrew Howard, Alex MacDowall and Darren Turner.

As well as the European titles that will be decided, there are two guaranteed places at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans for the top two LMGTE teams to be won.  JMW Motorsport have already claimed one of those places as they cannot finish the season lower than second but with just 15 points separating the no99 Aston Martin, the no56 AT Racing Ferrari and the no77 Proton Competition Porsche, who will be joining the British Ferrari on the grid of the world’s most famous race in 2017 will be decided in Portugal.

The 4 Hours of Estoril will be full of excitement as the 2016 European Champions are revealed as the chequered flag is waved on Sunday 23rd of October.

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