With an all-new driver line-up featuring Frederic Vervisch, Michael Lyons and Tristan Gommendy, Eurasia Motorsport had high hopes ahead of the European Le Mans Series finale today (23 October, 2016) in the 4 Hours of Estoril.
Hopes of a strong run to a podium were dashed early on, as a long first pitstop to repair accident damage on the #33 Oreca Nissan meant time and laps lost. A strong recovery drive however saw the team finish in fifth position and despite the tough weekend, Eurasia Motorsport is more than happy with its season-long endurance campaign.
“We had a number of specific targets this year and we achieved most of them,” Team Principal Mark Goddard explained. “We wanted to show well in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and we achieved that with a strong fifth place finish.
“We wanted podiums and we got one of those in Austria and undoubtedly should have more elsewhere. It’s been a strong season and while we didn’t get to the top step of the podium, we were usually there-or-there-abouts and that is no small achievement in itself.
“This weekend we handicapped ourselves in qualifying somewhat with the tyre selection, but Tristan – as ever – did a great job to move up to sixth in his first stint but we were unlucky with the contact with the LMP3.
“We had to tape the nose – twice – and repair the dive-planes and that ultimately cost us a great deal. On the positive, both of our new drivers – Frederic and Michael – performed well in the difficult conditions we experienced here in this weekend. Plus in today’s race both had to contend with excessive understeer as a result of the early race damage, so it was a very good job from both.”
Indeed, the changeable conditions provided the team with its first major issue of the weekend with the team opting to run full-wet Dunlop rubber in qualifying, while its rivals ran intermediates. As a result, Tristan Gommendy lined up 20th today.
The start saw the Frenchman quickly move up through the field to run ninth on lap three, 20-seconds behind the race leader. Crucially however he had already picked up some light bodywork damage to the front right dive-plane which would later prove to be costly in terms of track time.
Undeterred, the Frenchman put in a string of personal best laps as he made further progress, moving up to sixth position on lap eight, setting his sights on the #46 Oreca some distance ahead. With 50-minutes and 30 laps complete, Gommendy completed his first stint, handing over to new-recruit Michael Lyons. It proved to be a long stop however as the Eurasia crew had to repair and tape the front bodywork area, dropping from sixth overall to eighth.
Lyons got quickly up to speed, lapping on the pace of those directly ahead before handing over to Frederic Vervisch just before half distance who also showed well in terms of race craft and pace. The duo shared driving duties for the remainder of the race and aided with attrition, finished in fifth position overall.
As the chequered flag fell on the 2016 European Le Mans Series season, Eurasia Motorsport get set to leave the Portuguese circuit more than content with its 2016 campaign overall.