4 Hours of Portimao : Prema wins it all in the chaos

a group of men standing next to each other holding up trophies
#9 Oreca 07 – Gibson / PREMA RACING / Juan Manuel Correa / Louis Deletraz / Ferdinand Habsburg
Last Updated on October 16, 2022

The 4 Hours of Portimao was a thrilling race, with the track conditions constantly changing due to rain showers in the Algarve. The championship contenders gave it their all until the very end. In the end, Prema Racing (LMP2), Cool Racing (LMP3), and Racing Team Turkey (LMP2 Pro-Am) emerged victorious, winning their respective championship titles. Proton Competition finished 5th in LMGTE to take the class title, while the Iron Dames made history by becoming the first all-female crew to take an ELMS win. However, the race was not without its fair share of heartbreaks, as Inter Europol Competition experienced a reported puncture in the final hour, putting them out of the race after a crash with an LMGTE car.

Chaotic Start

The race began with two formation laps behind the Safety Car due to the rain falling on the track. Several cars spun in the wet conditions on slick tires. However, the race got underway with the no22 United Autosports Oreca of Duncan Tappy up to second from fifth. The no17 Cool Racing Ligier of Maurice Smith kept his position at the head of the LMP3 field ahead of Charles Crews in the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier. Crews eventually took the class lead after 15 minutes of racing. Ahmad Al Harthy moved into the lead of LMGTE in the no69 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin from 4th on the grid, while the no83 Iron Lynx Ferrari of Sarah Bovy, which had started on pole, was in third.

Close Racing and Penalties

a pink sports car driving on a track under a cloudy sky
#83 Ferrari F488 GTE EVO / IRON LYNX / Michelle Gatting / Sarah Bovy / Doriane Pin

The three cars circulated nose to tail for lap after lap until the first Full Course Yellow was declared when the no21 Muehlner Motorsport Oreca of Mathias Kaiser collided with the no7 Nielsen Racing Ligier of Tony Wells, putting both cars into retirement. At the restart, the no9 Oreca, with Ferdinand Habsburg now at the wheel, caught and passed the no43 Inter Europol Competition Oreca of David Heinemeier-Hansson, with the Dane dropping to third when he was passed by Bent Viscaal in the no19 Oreca. In LMGTE, the no32 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari was given a drive-through penalty for track limits, but Diego Alessi was still second when he emerged from the pit lane.

Drama in the Final Hour

The race went green once again, with Louis Deletraz now in the no9 Prema Racing Oreca well ahead of the rest of the field. The LMP3 title looked destined to be going back to Poland as Guilherme Oliveira climbed aboard the no13 Ligier. Disaster struck the Portuguese driver with just 12 minutes left on the clock when he came into the pits with a suspected puncture, dropping the team down to 7th, which would have given the title to Cool Racing. On emerging from the pit lane, the no13 Ligier went wide at Turn 1 and then came back across the track, collecting the no95 Aston Martin of John Hartshorne and putting both cars in the gravel and out of the race. This brought out the sixth and final FCY, and the race went green with just three minutes left on the clock.

a group of people standing in a pool holding trophies
#17 Ligier JS P320 – Nissan / COOL RACING / Maurice Smith / Michael Benham / Malthe Jakobsen

Prema Racing emerged as the winner of the chaotic 4 Hours of Portimao, with Louis Deletraz taking the chequered flag ahead of the no65 Panis Racing Oreca of Job Van Uitert with the no37 Cool Racing Oreca of Yifei Ye in third. Malthe Jakobsen finished over a lap ahead of the rest of the LMP3 field in the no17 Cool Racing Ligier, with the no2 United Autosports Ligier in second place. The LMGTE winner was the no83 Iron Dames Ferrari with Michelle Gatting capitalizing on the lead her teammates had handed her to become the first all-female crew to win an ELMS race.

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