Algarve Pro Racing Team arrived at Silverstone for the first round of the European Le Mans Series this weekend (13-15 April, 2017) in a positive frame of mind following a successful test at Monza last month and the first race of the new season promised a great deal ultimately, until a gearbox failure mid-race dashed hopes of a strong podium position.
“We’re gutted,” said Team Manager Samantha Cox. “We were confident of a podium finish, probably second and then the gearbox failed. The drivers and team did a great job. We’ve had a great weekend, it’s just a real shame for all of us that we couldn’t get the result we deserved here at Silverstone.”
Ahead of the 4H of Silverstone, the Portuguese-based team worked their way through the two 90-minute practice sessions with Andrea Pizzitola, Andrea Roda and Matthew McMurry all taking turns behind the wheel of the Ligier LMP2.
The ten minute-qualifying session saw Pizzitola claim the provisional pole position, only for a rival to spin and bring out the red flags. The session resumed with just over five minutes remaining and the team opting to save a set of tyres over that of their rivals, fully aware that they would be beaten to the pole, but this would benefit in terms of strategy on race day
Starting fifth, Roda took the first stint and found himself in a tight battle with the #32 Liger and 39 Oreca for third position. With 40-laps complete, Roda took second position and pitted shortly afterwards to hand over to Matthew McMurry. The American racer resumed in second position, maintaining the gap to those chasing behind before the gearbox failed.
“I was simply driving along and there were no issues and then I went to shift and the revs just jumped up like I was in neutral,” said McMurry. “That was the end for me, the gearbox failed and I parked the car. A real shame but we proved our speed here today.”
Algarve Pro Racing return to the European Le Mans Series for round two at Monza 12-14 May.