Jota Sport secure hard-earned podium finish at Paul Ricard
Simon Dolan: “That was one of the most challenging races I’ve ever driven, so to come away with a podium is a great feeling."
Jota Sport took a hard-fought third-place finish in yesterday's European Le Mans Series season finale at Paul Ricard (28 September) to secure P3 overall in the drivers' and teams' standings.
The French event began strongly for Jota as Turvey produced his now-customary qualifying masterclass, bagging the team's fourth ELMS pole position from five attempts aboard their Zytek-Nissan after trading fastest laps with the rival Murphy Prototypes entry. The Brit's best effort of 1m48.043s was eventually enough to seal P1 and the bonus point that accompanies it.
Turvey took the race start and led away from the front. The Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 Test Driver was immediately able to gap the chasing pack and then displayed consistent pace to gradually build an advantage of nearly half a minute.
But during the second half of Turvey's time aboard the car the throttle began to stick, costing the drivers crucial time in the corners and affecting downshifting through the gears.
At half race distance Turvey handed over to Dolan, who fought hard to keep pro driver Brendon Hartley behind – a significant task given the combination of a sticking throttle and the Kiwi's extensive top-level experience. Ultimately Hartley was able to pass, but not before Dolan had provided stern opposition.
Dolan was then chased down by Natacha Gachnang, who alongside former F1 driver Christian Klien forms an all-pro line-up at Morand Racing. Nevertheless Dolan was able to hold his own, matching the Swiss driver's times before ultimately settling into third.
He would then focus on bringing the car home for a satisfying and hard-earned podium finish, the team's third of the campaign which followed a suitably determined display with which to conclude the 2013 ELMS campaign.
Simon Dolan, Jota Sport driver: “That was one of the most challenging races I’ve ever driven, so to come away with a podium is a great feeling. Obviously it’s bittersweet as without the throttle problem we had the pace to fight for the win, but that’s the first problem we’ve had with this car in two years, and the guys work extremely hard. Ollie was as strong as ever too, earning us another pole and driving brilliantly during the opening stints, so overall this has been a good conclusion to the season. I just wish there wasn’t so long to wait before the next one gets underway!”
Oliver Turvey, Jota Sport driver: “Qualifying has been our strong point all season and today was no exception. I had a great battle with Brendon Hartley for pole and was pleased to emerge on top. The race started well, but during the second stint I began to notice the throttle issue. It was becoming progressively worse, so how Simon managed to drive around it towards the end of his stint I’m not sure. He was excellent out there and put in a great deal of work to secure us a podium, so a big thank you to him and the whole team for what’s been a great season.”
Sam Hignett, Jota Sport team principal: “After another tough race I’m glad we were able to conclude the season with our third podium of the year. I can’t say enough positive things about Simon and Ollie today; they did a remarkable job to cope with the throttle problem and bring the car home in P3. Of course there’s a touch of frustration that we couldn’t fight for the win, but sometimes the most satisfying results are those you have to fight tooth and nail for.”
European Le Mans Series standings (after 5 of 5 rounds)
1. Signatech Alpine 85 points
2. Thiriet by TDS Racing 77
3. Jota Sport 71
4. Murphy Prototypes 64
5. Morand Racing 58
3 Hours of Paul Ricard: Murphy Prototypes race winners with the ORECA 03
Gary Hirsch and Paul-Loup Chatin crowned LM PC champions at Paul Ricard