The second round of this year’s European Le Mans Series takes place this Sunday (17th May) at Imola and this legendary circuit in northern Italy is where the Murphy Prototypes team intends to get its 2015 title challenge back on track.
The track – named the Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari – features a 4.909km (3.050-mile) lap and was the venue for the San Marino Grand Prix. It is one of the few major circuits to run in an anti-clockwise direction and is renowned for its high-speed straights and technical corners, including the infamous Tamburello Curve.
Last month’s round one – the 4-hours of Silverstone – saw all three of the team’s drivers: Michael Lyons, Mark Patterson and Natanaël Berthon, battle amongst the front-runners for overall positions. However, a small electrical issue with the team’s Oreca 03R Nissan LMP2 with just one hour to go whilst running in fifth place, meant the team was unable to fulfil its true potential.
“Of course, we were very disappointed with the outcome at Silverstone, but we have since discovered what caused the problem”, said Dublin-based Team Principal Greg Murphy. “The team have been working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure everything that can be done has been done to achieve the best possible result at Imola. We have always performed well there and therefore, we’re targeting nothing less than a podium finish.”
Following an excellent double-stint at Silverstone, Anglo-Irishman Michael Lyons from Bishop’s Stortford has driven the most competitive mileage in the car so far this year. He says he took a lot of positives away from Silverstone and consequently, is now looking forward to this weekend:
“The Imola circuit layout, with its long straights and big braking zones, should suit our car well. Having competed there for the first time last year in a GTE car, I know it’s going to be a challenging race, especially as I know I’ll be overtaking more traffic this year driving an LMP2 car.
“This ‘old school’ style circuit leaves little margin for error and it means that you’re driving on the edge most of the time. I must admit that I can’t wait to be back behind the wheel of the Murphy Prototypes Oreca and get our championship chase going.”
Second in the car for round one was RSA-born, New York-based businessman Mark Patterson, who at 63 is proud to be the oldest driver on the ELMS grid as well as one of the most passionate about racing:
“Our electrical gremlins are now fixed, so this weekend we plan to score points and grab the podium place that escaped our grasp at Silverstone. I’ve raced at Imola just once before and loved it. The circuit has some very demanding corners, with the less technical hilltop chicane that comes before that enjoyable downhill straight. Bring it on!”
Third to drive at Silverstone – and therefore the driver who didn’t get to finish his stint – was Nathanaël Berthon. Also contesting a full GP2 campaign this year, the talented Frenchman from Romagnat is eager to get back to the business of challenging for ELMS race wins and subsequently, the title:
“It was a great shame not to finish at Silverstone, so our 2015 title challenge starts this weekend. With the car and team we have, I am confident we can do well at Imola and I see no reason what we shouldn’t be battling for a podium position.”
The ELMS action starts on Saturday, with two 90-minute Free Practice sessions at 10.30 and 15.00. The 20-minutes of qualifying takes place on Sunday from 10.30, with the four-hour race getting underway at 14.00. All times are CEST, one-hour ahead of BST.
For further details and to find the latest news about the Murphy Prototypes team, plus images and videos, visit the team’s Facebook page and website:www.murphyprototypes.com