COOL Racing took a second consecutive LMP2 Pro-Am victory in the European Le Mans Series season finale in Portimao, securing a runner-up finish in the standings. Charles Milesi made it two overall poles in as many races with a fantastic lap in qualifying on Saturday, with the LMP3 crew finishing a strong season second in the championship.
NICOLAS LAPIERRE, #37 Oreca 07 “Two pole positions, two fastest laps and two Pro-Am wins to end the season, we can be very happy with what we have achieved. During the winter we can improve even further. Charles did an amazing job and he definitely has a bright future in endurance racing. Alex had one of the strongest races of his career and we dominated in Pro-Am. It’s a shame for the LMP3 crew to miss out on the title but they still had a fantastic season. It’s the first time we race in ELMS LMP3, so we’ll come back stronger next year and fight for the title again. This year has been very encouraging for COOL Racing, we are a very young team with huge potential, so we’re all excited for 2022.”
ALEXANDRE COIGNY, #37 Oreca 07 “A perfect end to the season, we are really happy. The team has been great this year, we progressed and improved throughout the campaign and to conclude with two pole positions and two Pro-Am wins is really encouraging. We are on the right track for a successful future.”
CHARLES MILESI, #37 Oreca 07 “I think we maximised our potential today. We wanted to be on the overall podium but we knew that was going to be hard to achieve. We had an issue with the door when Alex got in which cost us some time, but we can be happy with our weekend. Our pace improved from Spa, the team have been really welcoming to me in these two races and the car has been great to drive and very competitive.”
NICOLAS MAULINI, #19 Ligier JS P320 “I said before the race that 2021 was already a success, we’ve shown great speed all year, but today was not our day. I was squeezed against the pit wall at the startand we also picked up a puncture, which obviously cost us a lot of time. The competition this year was very strong, we had a fantastic season, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Thanks to the team for this year, it’s been a very positive one despite the difficulties we faced today.”
MATT BELL, #19 Ligier JS P320 “I think we’ve just got to take the highlights from the campaign, the two wins were amazing along with the two second-place finishes. Unfortunately, our luck ran out today and what could go wrong did go wrong. Maybe it would’ve been different if we had a clean race but it was an uphill battle from early on. It’s a massive achievement for the team to come into the season and finish second so we’ve got a lot to be happy about from this year.”
NIKLAS KRÜTTEN, #19 Ligier JS P320 “The team did a great job this year. We didn’t expect to lead the championship when the season began. Today just didn’t go our way. Nico was unfortunate to get a puncture after hitting some debris, which cost us a lot of time. We did everything we could but it just wasn’t to be. We had a great season, it’s tough to take right now but we can still be proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Maurice Smith and Matt Bell secured second in the Michelin Le Mans Cup standings following an excellent drive to finish fourth in Portimao from 16th on the grid. Smith quickly made up eight places in his opening stint and a good strategy took them to another strong result, securing the runner-up spot in the championship, their best result as a duo.
In the #37 Ligier JS P320, Antoine Doquin took a stunning pole position, his third of the season. Unfortunately, the light at the end of the pitlane was red when Doquin left the garage, meaning the Frenchman had to start from the pits, limiting his and Josh Skelton’s result to 19th.
MAURICE SMITH, #69 Ligier JS P320: “Overall it was a great season and beyond our expectations. I enjoyed my stint, it was great fun to come through the field. The team had a brilliant strategy as always to help us to a P4 finish. I’m delighted to finish second in the championship, obviously we were dreaming of the title but it wasn’t to be.”
MATT BELL, #69 Ligier JS P320: “It’s a fantastic end to the season. The race was a rollercoaster as always in the Le Mans Cup. Mo had a great first stint, he made up several positions. The car felt amazing when I jumped in, so a big thanks to the team. It’s tough to be so close to the title and not pull it off, but we were aiming for top three at the start of the year so it’s been a great season. I’ve really enjoyed driving with Mo, he deserves this P2 finish in the championship.”
ANTOINE DOQUIN, #37 Ligier JS P320: “Today didn’t unfold as we wanted it to. I was really happy with my lap in qualifying, but sadly we were forced to start from the pits, a lap and a half down. I tried to attack as much as I could and made up some ground but it was tough going. We need to forget this race and focus on all the positives from this season. A big thank you to the COOL Racing team, they did a great job this year.”
JOSH SKELTON, #Ligier JS P320: “It was a shame to not go from pole. It put us on the backfoot, and it was always going to be tough to come back from that. I’m happy with my stint, we had good race pace but unfortunately the tyres dropped off and we couldn’t finish where we would’ve liked to. A big thanks to COOL Racing for the season, I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Source. Pole/Photo. Matthias Schütt