The fifth and final round of the European Le Mans Series – the 4 Hours of Estoril – takes place on Sunday 18th October and the Murphy Prototypes team is determined to end the season on a high. Having encountered moments of celebration and others of frustration during the year, although the championship title is now out of reach, the will to win amongst the team remains as strong as ever.
Last month’s previous round at Paul Ricard in the South of France saw Murphy Prototypes lined-up to claim a podium position. However, a spin into the barriers mid-way though the race while Michael Lyons was at the wheel of the team’s Oreca 03R, signalled an abrupt and premature end to the team’s race. Since then, the engineers at Murphy’s Brackley-based workshops have worked tirelessly to restore the car to its former glory and, at a shake-down test last week, Michael – who drove the car for the first time since his French excursion – was delighted to report that everything ran perfectly.
Currently the team is lying fifth in the series’ standings and mathematically could move up to fourth if circumstances permit – which would be no mean feat taking into account there are no dropped scores and two of the four rounds have resulted in retirement for the team. Likewise, the three drivers: Anglo-Irish driver Michael Lyons from Bishop’s Stortford, RSA-born Mark Patterson from New York and Nathanaël Berthon from Romagnat in France, could also finish in fourth in the drivers’ standings, which means they would move up two places from their current position of sixth.
“If there’s one philosophy that all of us in the team hold, it’s never give up”, said Team Principal Greg Murphy. “We’re therefore looking forward to the race at Estoril as much as we would any other, as we’re absolutely determined to end our season on a high note. We’ve had our fair share of bad luck and let some opportunities slip through our fingers this year, but we’ll put that all behind us next weekend and will, as always, be aiming for nothing less than a podium result.”
The Autódromo do Estoril was built in 1972 and lies west of Lisbon, 9km away from the beach resort that bears its name. The 4.182km undulating circuit features a 1km start/finish straight and 13 corners, two of which are hairpin bends.
The action gets underway on Saturday (17th) with two, 90-minute Free Practice sessions at 10.30 and 15.00. Sunday’s programme includes a 20-minute Qualifying session from 09.30, with the 4 Hours of Estoril getting the green light at 13.00 (all times CEST).
“I’m really looking forward to the final round of the ELMS. I shook the car down at a test last week and everything went according to plan. Unfortunately, we’re going into this weekend not fighting for the championship, but that leaves us in a nice position to battle it out for a good result.
“I have fond memories of Estoril, having secured a podium here last year in the GTE class in a race that went back and forth for the full four-hours. I can’t wait to get back in the Oreca though and, with Nathanaël’s strong pace and Mark’s consistency I’m confident we can end the season on a real high!”
“Deep in the soul of race drivers, perhaps unrealistically sometimes, is the will to win no matter where they stand in the championship. So we’re going to give it our all and try to grab another podium next weekend. We’ve let a couple of top-three positions slip this year and that can’t happen again. As our car goes well on comparable tracks, I think the bright green Irish machine should do just fine in Portugal!”
“It would be great to do well this weekend. We’ve proved at every race this year we can challenge for a top-three position and for a whatever reason it’s only happened once so far. If we can do a good job, then the result will come and it will be fantastic to be back on the podium for the last ELMS race of the season.”
|Current ELMS teams standings||Points|
|3||Thiriet By TDS Racing||66|