Picture © Jakob Ebrey Photography
LM GTE - 27/10/2017 - Jeff CARTER
This was in addition to the jewel in the crown win at the race that every competitor dreams of winning. Rob Smith, Will Stevens and Dries Vanthoor took the chequered flag in the LMGTE Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the team’s first race with the brand new Ferrari F488.
The 2017 ELMS season saw JMW Motorsport secure five podiums, including one win, three seconds and a third place finish, taking 104 points to finish just two ahead of TF Sport in the closest title race for many seasons.
The season got off to a far from ideal start at the team’s home race at Silverstone when they could only manage 5th. However they bounced back in Italy in the last race for the F458 on Ferrari’s home ground with Jonny Cocker replacing Rory Butcher alongside Rob Smith and Jody Fannin. JMW Motorsport came through to take the win in a fairytale ending for the career of the oldest car on the ELMS grid.
After the win at Le Mans in the new F488, the ELMS resumed at the Red Bull Ring, where the team secured the first of three second place finishes, which was followed up by a third place at Le Castellet a month later.
At Spa-Francorchamps Will Stevens rejoined the team in place of Jonny Cocker for the final two races of the season, the former F1 driver helping the team to secure two more second places in Belgium and Portugal and take the ELMS Champions trophies. As champions JMW Motorsport have now secured the invitation to the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans in addition to the automatic invitation for winning the LMGTE Am class at the 2017 race.
Rob Smith: “It’s been a massive year. When I started with JMW three years ago if you’d said we would have year like this one, I don’t think I would’ve believed you. Jim and Valerie (McWhirter) have put their heart and soul into their team and I must say a massive thank you to them for taking me into their family and for making this the most amazing year of my life.
“We had Will (Stevens) join us at Le Mans, which was an amazing race, and to have him in for the last two rounds has been brilliant. But the guy who has been there all year and has fought side by side with me is Jody. He’s done a mega job and he does two hours in the car, so a lot of this is down to him. He really, really deserves this and he is a great champion.”
Jody Fannin: “To be called ELMS Champion hasn’t really sunk in yet. This is really amazing, especially as this year is my first stab at it. JMW came so close to winning last year; I wasn’t part of it but obviously all the same guys are there and it is good for the whole team to take the title this year. It wasn’t over until the chequered flag fell, it has been so close all year.
“We started the year in the old car, the F458, and winning at Monza in its last race was a fairytale, I don’t think anyone expected that to happen, especially us. We had to learn a whole new car, which was a team effort trying to figure out the set up on it. The team have been absolutely fantastic, the car has been faultless. JMW is a family run team, with a great atmosphere and they have welcomed me in. This championship is a real team effort and all the guys deserve this.
“Rob has done a brilliant job, the bronze driver makes all the difference. I do two hours but Rob’s stints have been absolutely crucial and he has been on it in every round.”
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