Onwards and Upwards for the ELMS in 2016
In 2016 the European Le Mans Series continued to build on the success of the previous seasons.
The fourth season since the ELMS relaunch in 2013 saw the events, with the exception of the season-opener at Silverstone, moving from a 2-day to a 3-day format with qualifying taking place on Saturday and the 4-hour race on Sunday. This allowed for an extended support race package which will include the new-for-2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, Formula Renault 2.0 and the Renault Sport Trophy RS01.
There was an additional race weekend on the 2016 calendar increasing the ELMS season from five to six races with Spa-Francorchamps joining the already established events at Silverstone, Imola, Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet and Estoril.
Another change for 2016 was the return to three classes – LMP2, LMP3 and LMGTE. Competitors running the GTC category had their own series on the ELMS calendar – the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup.
Grids continued to be large in 2016 with 44 cars being entered across the three classes.
LMP2: G-Drive Racing Take Dramatic Title
Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo Van De Garde, driving the ‘Mighty 38’ Gibson-Nissan took the LMP2 title in dramatic style at the final round after a season long battle with the no46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05-Nissan. The JOTA Sport run G-Drive Gibson took wins at Silverstone and Estoril to claim the team and drivers’ titles.
LMP3: United Autosports Become European Champions in debut season
Anglo-American team United Autosports became Euorpean Le Mans Series LMP3 Champions on their first attempt with a strong performance throughout the 2016 season in the large and hotly contested twenty car LMP3 class. Alex Brundle, Christian England and Mike Guasch took wins at Silverstone, Imola and Red Bull Ring and followed it up with two further podiums at Le Castellet and Spa and claim the title before the final race at Estoril.
LMGTE: Beechdean Aston Martin Takes Last Gasp Title
The no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Rory Butcher, Rob Smith and Andrea Bertolini had taken the LMGTE class by storm in 2016 and looked odds on favourites to claim the title in Portugal. Their only rivals for the title, Silverstone race winners Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall had to win the race in Estoril and the JMW Ferrari fail to finish. The no99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage duly won the race from the back of the grid and technical issues forced the Ferrari into retirement so the title was claimed by the Beechdean Icecream sponsored car. However both cars claimed the two automatic invitations to the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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