FrantÂ race team Jota Sport were crowned this year’s European Le Mans Series champions following their dramatic victory in Portugal.
It was a make-or-break race for the team, who had come to the Estoril circuit lagging 14 points behind championship leaders Thiriet TDS Racing.
However, skilful driving by the three drivers Harry Tincknell, ÂSimon Dolan and ex-Formula One racer Giedo van der Garde meant Jota took the lead early on during the four-hour race.
They also benefited from the misfortune of their rivals which resulted in the Thiriet car spending 20 laps in the pit due to Âelectrical issues, ensuring Jota reversed their deficit to finish the season with 103 points to ÂThiriet’s 94.
It was the first championship victory for the team, which last year won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans on which the European series is based.
The title win also represented a fitting send-off for the team’s Gibson car, which they have run since 2012.
The ‘Mighty 38’, as it was Âaffectionately nicknamed by commentators, will be retired by the end of the year as rule Âchanges to the series have led to a ban on open-cockpit cars.
Tincknell, who took the car to the finish line, said: “We’ve been trying to win this race for three years, we’ve been trying to win the championship for three years and each previous year we’ve come close. I think we’ve deserved it, but it didn’t quite come our way before.
“This year we knew we just needed to be a little bit more Âconsistent and make fewer mistakes. We did it in style by winning the final race and the whole team were magnificent.”
He added: “This is a sweet victory and such a great end to the career of this fantastic car.”