The European Le Mans Series season finale saw Matteo Cairoli as the protagonist again. The double round at the Portuguese track put an end to the GTE car era and saw the driver from Como and Iron Lynx fight for the championship up until its last hour. The weekend was characterized by constantly changing weather conditions, which saw rain pouring right from Wednesday’s test sessions and delaying Sunday’s race start, later suspended due to the impossibility of racing safely.
In the fifth round of the championship, the 4H of Algarve – which replaced the Imola round canceled at the beginning of the year – Iron Lynx’s car n.60 ended third in its class with only a 3.659 gap from the Proton Competition n.77, with Cairoli, Cressoni, and Schiavoni second with 3 points less than the championship leader in the standings. A bold strategy and Cressoni’s incredible pace on slick tires were what helped the team, which started in the back of the grid, to try and snatch the win when Cairoli was at the wheel in the last stint.
Everything was still possible before the grand finale, the 4H of Portimao on Sunday. However, the weather had to interfere during the last round of the European Le Mans Series: torrential rain poured down the Algarve Circuit and forced the race direction of Eduardo Freitas to postpone the race by two hours and to suspend it some time later to try and wait for better conditions. With an uncertain weather situation, which increased the difficulty coefficient given the rule that prohibits the use of warmers or thermal blankets of any kind to bring tires up to temperature, the drivers did not lose their patience: Matteo Cairoli and his team, despite starting from the back, only had to gain as much time as possible and remain in the leader’s lap to try to win the title. They managed to do so with Cairoli at the wheel right after Schiavoni. What put an end to their dreams was the wrong call on the pitstop when the driver from Como handed the wheel to Cressoni: the team slipped one lap behind the leading car and lost all its chances to win the title.
After an eight-place finish, Matteo Cairoli closed the championship third with 80 points, behind the two Proton Competition Porsches.
“We believed in the possibility of winning the championship up until the last hour of the race, as nothing was for granted. We fought for the win during the first season with Iron Lynx, and I’m really grateful for this opportunity. Claudio and Matteo turned out to be two amazing friends and teammates, and the atmosphere that I found here is simply unique. I gave my best, but sometimes it’s not enough. Congratulations to our rivals for the title, they deserved it, and it was still a great season. This race was the end of the GTE European era and I can’t wait to drive them one last time in Bahrain for the FIA WEC finale in two weeks.”