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A poorly timed safety car and mechanical issue today denied Nielsen Racing the opportunity to fight for the final European Le Mans Series podium of the year at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve.
The #10 entry of Rob Hodes, Garett Grist and Charles Crews climbed through the field to run as high as fourth, but ultimately the North American trio had to be content with fifth position. This equalled their best result of the year, whilst claiming the best finish for a Duqueine entry at Portimão.
Yesterday’s Le Mans Cup race winners Colin Noble and ELMS Gentleman Driver of the Year Tony Wells were flat out of luck when the former returned to the pits two laps into his stint with a broken exhaust. The #7 crew working relentlessly to replace the part, therefore allowing the Scottish racer to at least finish the 4-hour race.
“Portimão was one of out better races this year and we were well on our way to a good result. Unfortunately, the timing of the Safety Car was as bad as it possibly could be for us and that’s where our luck got cut off. We were the first ones not to get the wave around and it was a struggle from there on. We will continue to look for pace in the Duqueine over the next two days of testing.”
“We were on for the podium, but the last safety car really screwed us strategy wise. There was a full course yellow we didn’t take, but to be honest, in the position we were in at the time, we wouldn’t have taken it. So it was just bad luck with that last safety car.
“Other than that, it was a very simple stint in that I just drove around to be completely honest, no battles, nothing interesting, unfortunately. The car was pretty good on the first stint, but when we went on to full tanks with used tyres and that really affected the handling. This is something we need to look at set-up wise.
“In the last race we were sixth, and the one before that we were quite good as well. The year did get better and better; I think in Monza, we should have been third or fourth, today we had another chance to be third or fourth, but we ended up fifth. It is what it is, but it’s much better compared to where we were at Le Castellet for the first race of the year.”
“We did the best we could today, all three of us had really good stints: I made a spot, Charlie made a couple of spots, Garett made a spot or two and then we got very unlucky with Safety Cars, we unfortunately lost a lap, otherwise we would have been fighting for a podium today but it is what it is. Is not a bad result so all in all, it was a fun day.”