Algarve Pro Racing was crowned 2023 European Le Mans Series Overall and LMP2 Champions and awarded a sought-after entry to the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans, following a dramatic Grand Season Finale on home ground at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve (19-22 October).
The Albufeira, Portugal-based squad and drivers Kyffin Simpson, James Allen and Alex Lynn sealed the ELMS Overall Teams and Drivers Trophies with a second-place finish in the 4 Hours of Algarve, before celebrating their LMP2 Teams and Drivers Championships from the second step of the 4 Hours of Portimao podium.
A concerted year-long push, personal sacrifice, fine attention-to-detail and sheer consistency on the track yielded race wins at Circuit Paul Ricard and Spa, and three podiums in Aragon and Portimao that ensured Algarve Pro wrapped up its maiden ELMS Overall and LMP2 titles, having also triumphed in the Centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and on the other side of the Atlantic in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Algarve Pro led the 4 Hours of Algarve from pole position following a brilliant getaway by Simpson, who registered purple sectors to stretch his advantage over the #22 United Autosports USA by more than seven seconds.
The pack converged when rain engulfed the Portimao circuit and the Safety Car responded to stranded spinners, but Simpson edged away once back to full racing speed, and Allen continued pressing on so that Algarve Pro was nearly 40 seconds to the good at the two-hour mark.
Later, the #25 crew’s hard work was negated by a third Safety Car and, shoed with wets on a drying track, Australia’s Allen came under increasing pressure from the #30 Duqueine Team as he neared the end of his stint.
However, with Lynn on slicks, Algarve Pro ran second until an inspired call to refuel a lap earlier than the opposition during a fourth neutralisation propelled the #25 back up into P1.
Soon after the restart, the #22 engaged Lynn in a tough but clean battle for the victory, which was resolved when the United Autosports contender pulled off a decisive overtake ten minutes from the chequered flag.
Happily, the 18 points for P2 were enough for Algarve Pro Racing to seal the Overall Teams and Drivers Trophies with one race to spare, but the coveted LMP2 titles and accompanying 24 Hours of Le Mans entry were still up for grabs.
For the ELMS 4 Hours of Portimao on Sunday, conditions were worse than ever with heavy and persistent rain battering the Algarve and reducing visibility to a point where the race was severely delayed and, after two tentative exploratory laps behind the Safety Car, red-flagged.
The clock continued ticking down from four hours and, with 3h10m to run, the Safety Car led the 40-strong field away for a second time.
With a 20-point championship lead to protect, Simpson yo-yoed between third and fifth in the early running but settled into fourth, in the wake of the #65 Panis Racing to the end of a relatively conservative stint.
Allen was in the cockpit with two hours to go and he spent much of his time in third; soon after relinquishing P3 to the #30 Duquiene Team, the Aussie slipped by the #65 into the podium places.
A Safety Car followed the final driver-change to Lynn, who was fourth on the road but being pushed hard by the charging #65, and the pair traded fastest laps in an escalating fight that initially went the way of Panis Racing.
However, spins, collisions and a penalty for three of the lead contenders promoted the #25 Algarve Pro crew from fifth to second.
Thereafter, Cadillac Racing factory driver Lynn soaked up immense pressure from the resurgent #65 car during the final 15 minutes, which were punctuated by a Full Course Yellow and featured contact with less than 60 seconds to go.
While Algarve Pro could have afforded to fall behind, Lynn fought hard to hold a second position that ensured he, Simpson, Allen and the Algarve Pro team won the LMP2 Teams and Drivers titles and an entry to the 2024 edition of Le Mans with 13 points over the competition.
Kyffin Simpson (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “We won the 2023 European Le Mans Series Overall and LMP2 Teams and Drivers Championships, which is pretty incredible. We wrapped up the Overall titles in the ELMS 4 Hours of Algarve on Friday and the LMP2 crowns in the 4 Hours of Portimao on Sunday, and I’m super happy about it. I can’t thank Algarve Pro Racing enough for all the hard work they’ve put in this year, and I’m thankful to James (Allen) and Alex (Lynn) who have also done an incredible job.
“The races in Portimao were more about survival than anything. It feels like we had everything thrown at us, but the team collectively remained calm and just did what they do best. It’s great to be a small part of Algarve Pro’s story. This team is executing flawlessly every weekend and deserves every success. I hope to have an opportunity to race with them in the future – I wouldn’t want to be up against them, that’s for sure!”
James Allen (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “I’m super proud of everybody involved with Algarve Pro Racing. To secure the ELMS Overall Teams and Drivers Championships as well as the LMP2 Teams and Drivers titles is a mega achievement. It was all about consistency for us; we were on the podium in every race but the season-opening 4 Hours of Barcelona and that’s what won us the championships in the end. I can’t thank the team, Kyffin (Simpson) and Alex (Lynn) enough for this fantastic season. Our crew, engineers and my teammates have been perfect all year and they all deserve this reward.”
Alex Lynn (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “I’m immensely proud to be part of this Algarve Pro Racing team and to have achieved such a feat. This team deserves everything it has gotten this year and I’m so happy for Stewart and Sam. It took a lot of hard work and sacrifice from everyone, but it all feels worthwhile now. The past week threw everything at us and it put us in a position where we had to be at the top of our game, but we recognised that and reacted the right ways.”