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Algarve Pro takes Greece’s Lentoudis to maiden ELMS LMP2 Pro-Am win with Bradley and Quinn at Imola

Algarve Pro Racing took Kriton Lentoudis to his first ever European Le Mans Series LMP2 Pro-Am win with Richard Bradley and Alex Quinn in the 4 Hours of Imola (5-7 July).
 
However, it was a “bittersweet” affair for the Portugal-based team, which classified a lowly eighth with the LMP2 title-contending #25 crew of Matthias Kaiser, Olli Caldwell and Alex Lynn.

From 20th overall and seventh on the LMP2 Pro-Am grid, Greece’s Lentoudis rose to fourth during a phenomenal 60-minute stint that kept the #20 ORECA 07-Gibson in the mix for a class podium.

The forward momentum carried through to Bradley’s race run, as the Brit cycled up both the overall and class leaderboards, peaking in P2 with an ever-reducing shortfall to the class-leading #77 Proton Competition.

Algarve Pro was fifth in Pro-Am at half time, but the Portuguese-flagged squad lifted itself into P4 on pure pace and later worked its way into the LMP2 Pro-Am podium places with Quinn at the helm.

The running order shuffled frequently as strategies played out, but an error-free stint while managing heavy, sometimes uncooperative lapped traffic ensured Quinn kept the pursuing #83 AF Corse and #29 Richard Mille by TDS entries at arm’s length for a resplendent LMP2 Pro-Am victory at Imola.

Notably, Lentoudis is the first Greek driver to stand on the top step of the ELMS podium, and he, Bradley and Quinn are now third and only 13 points adrift in the LMP2 Pro-Am Teams and Drivers Championships.

Kriton Lentoudis (#20 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2 Pro-Am): “Algarve Pro Racing gave us a fantastic car and, in my stint, I managed to stick with the class leaders. I was privileged to watch a very clever strategy unfold during the remainder of the race.

“Richard (Bradley) and Alex (Quinn) did a great job in their stints, and the strategy devised by Algarve Pro’s engineering team turned out to be perfect, putting us in the lead towards the end. It’s a great thrill to have won my first European Le Mans Series race, and I’m proud to be the first person from Greece to stand on the top step of the ELMS podium.”

Richard Bradley (#20 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2 Pro-Am): “I’m absolutely delighted to get a third European Le Mans Series win. It was great from the start, as we came to Imola with a plan, executed it really well and everything worked out.

“We were very bold on strategy and that ended up being the right approach. Sometimes you win races on luck, but this isn’t one of those. Everybody within Algarve Pro Racing executed to 100 per cent of their abilities, and a special mention has to go to Kriton (Lentoudis) because he gave the car to me in a really competitive position. I made the most of it and then Alex (Quinn) did a stunning job to bring it home in P1. It’s a great feeling and I’m looking forward to winning again at Spa.”

Alex Quinn (#20 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2 Pro-Am): “The European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Imola was great as a whole. Algarve Pro Racing pulled off an excellent strategy to put us in the fight for the LMP2 Pro-Am win towards the end of the race, when it was all about traffic management and making no mistakes while fighting with AF Corse and Richard Mille by TDS. Everybody at APR thoroughly deserves this victory.”

Algarve Pro was in the thick of the fight for pole position at Imola, as Lynn was quick out of the blocks after a mid-session red flag, looking imperious as the first to breach the 1m30s, only to have P1 snatched away at the very last.

Nevertheless, the British racer’s efforts were enough to guarantee a spot on the front row of the starting grid.

It was Liechtenstein’s Kaiser who was elected to start the #25 ORECA, and he emerged from a typically chaotic run to the Tamburello chicane in P3, but lost track position while fighting LMP2 rivals in among lapped traffic.

A foray across the grass necessitated an early stop to clear blocked brake ducts and quick work by Algarve Pro’s mechanics propelled the Liechtenstein driver back up into the top five.

Later, with Caldwell circulating at the leaders’ pace in fourth, side-to-side contact with an LMP3 car sent the #25 machine skittering across the Tosa gravel and cost two positions to the chasing #28 IDEC Sport and #22 United Autosports.

Algarve Pro was still in the mix at around half-distance, but the need to pit earlier than the opposition proved damaging when those still within the typical LMP2 fuel window got a free stop under a mid-race VSC.

The relative time-loss took the #25 Algarve Pro crew off the lead lap and, while Lynn tried to work his way forward from the lower reaches of the top ten, he could do no better than eighth.

However, sub-optimal performances by some of its chief championship opponents means Algarve Pro and its #25 line-up sit just 20 points off the lead in the LMP2 Teams and Drivers’ standings at the mid-point of the 2024 season.

Matthias Kaiser (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “I think we all feel a little disappointed about our result in the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Imola. Eighth isn’t what we were aiming for, but it was a difficult race dominated by traffic and incidents. I took the start, which was chaotic, getting through the first corners cleanly and slotting into P3, but it got messy once we hit traffic and I lost a few positions in those fights among lapped cars.

“In one instance, I was run out wide across the grass, which clogged our brake ducts. We pitted earlier than planned and, while that normally wouldn’t cost time, it bit us in the next stops because we once again had to box earlier than our rivals, who got free pit stops under a caution. We were a lap down and our race was pretty much done at that point. We had a great strategy and a fast car, Algarve Pro Racing did a mega job, and we hope for more luck next time around at Spa. We’re giving it everything to win the championship.”

Olli Caldwell (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “To come away from the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Imola in P8 after starting on the front row is disappointing. The car felt really good across both of my stints and I think that showed. We got hurt by a badly-timed Virtual Safety Car, which put us a lap down and limited what we could do. It’s really encouraging to know there’s pace in the car. We just need a bit of luck in the remaining races.”

Alex Lynn (#25 Algarve Pro Racing ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2): “I feel it was a day of what could have been for us, because we had really strong pace in the car in both qualifying and the race. I don’t like to be the one to talk about luck, but things really didn’t fall our way. I almost want to pretend the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Imola didn’t happen, pick ourselves up and go again at Spa.”

Algarve Pro Racing Team Principal, Stewart Cox, said: “I’m delighted that Kriton (Lentoudis) has achieved his first European Le Mans Series LMP2 Pro-Am win with Richard (Bradley) and Alex (Quinn). We were bold with our strategy and it paid off, but it was a bittersweet race for Algarve Pro Racing.

“Everybody could see we had super pace with both cars from the start of testing, Qualifying was excellent – I’m mega impressed with Alex’s (Lynn) qualifying performance while carrying an 22kg in weight over Charles Milesi, who nicked pole by a tenth – but the fact there was so much pace in the car only makes the end result with the #25 car more disappointing.”

Cox continued: “Small mistakes out on track cost us badly because we had to box out of sequence, our mid-race pit visit taking place just before a Virtual Safety Car that gave everybody else free stops. We were a lap down and unable to recover from there. However, our competitors had an equally bad race and we’re only 20 points behind in the championship with three races still to run, so there’s so much to play for. We’re getting stronger with our driver line-ups in each round and I’m already looking forward to the next one at Spa.”

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