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Showdown to Title Glory

ELMS - 06/10/2017

All six titles in the 2017 European Le Mans Series will be decided at the final race of the season, the 4 Hours of Portimão, on Sunday 22nd October. So what are the championship positions after the first five races and what does each contender need to do to call themselves European Champions at the end of a hard fought season?

LMP2 – Advantage G-Drive Racing

There are two contenders for the team and driver titles with the no22 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07-Gibson of Léo Roussel, Memo Rojas and Ryo Hirawaka holding an 18 points advantage with 98 points over the no32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217-Gibson of Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen and local hero Filipe Albuquerque on 80 points.  In the drivers title only Roussel and Rojas can win as Hirakawa missed two races in Austria and Le Castellet.

To be confirmed as champions G-Drive Racing must be 9 points ahead of the United Autosports crew after the race.  If G-Drive Racing score their second pole of the season, they need to finish in 6th place or higher.  If the United Autosports crew take their debut pole of the 2017 season then the G-Drive crew need to finish 5th or better.

LMP3 – United Autosports vs M.Racing - YMR

In the LMP3 class, defending team champions United Autosports have a 19 point advantage over the M.Racing-YMR team.  With two wins and 85 points, Sean Rayhall and John Falb need to secure just 7 points in the no2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3-Nissan to secure both the team and drivers titles.

The Americans would need to finish 7th if they take pole position or 6th if the pole position goes to the no18 crew of Alexandre Cougnaud, Antoine Jung and Romano Ricci.  If neither crew take their debut pole position in 2017, then the no2 Ligier can afford to finish 7th and still take the title.

LMGTE – Too Close to Call

While one team has a clear advantage in both the prototype classes, the LMGTE battle couldn’t be closer with just one point separating the top two cars.  Silverstone race winners Euan Hankey, Salih Yoluc and Nicky Thiim have 87 points from the first five races in the no90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans winner team and Monza race winners, JMW Motorsport, on 86 points with Rob Smith and Jody Fannin on the same points tally in the no66 Ferrari F488.

The no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of double race winners Aaron Scott, Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin are on 76 points, just 11 points behind the leaders. Their teammates Andrea Bertolini and Giorgio Roda in the no51 F488 are on 70 points. Reigning champions Andrew Howard and Darren Turner, along with Ross Gunn, in the no99 Beechdean AMR Vantage are on 63 points and with 24 points between them and the TF Sport crew they still have a mathematical shot at the title.

Because it is so close, the contenders will not be able to play a tactical game in Portugal but will be going all out to win the final race of the season.  If the TF Sport or JMW Motorsport win the race they will become the 2017 champions.

If the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari win their third race of the season from pole position then TF Sport or JMW Motorsport would have to finish in second to win the Driver and Team titles.

If the Spa-Francorchamps race winning no51 Spirit of Race Ferrari wins in Portugal from pole position the TF Sport crew need a minimum of 10 points but still need to finish ahead of the no66 Ferrari.  The JMW Motorsport crew need to score 12 points but again they need to finish ahead of the Aston Martin crew as well.

There is also one other thing to remember and that is the top two LMGTE teams in the 2017 ELMS receive invitations to the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – in LMP2 and LMP3 invitations are given by the ACO to just the champions.  Therefore there is a second prize to consider in the LMGTE category aside from lifting the championship trophy on Sunday evening.

The 4 Hours of Portimão takes place in Algarve on Sunday 22nd October and is the sixth and final round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series.

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