The Iron Lynx #60 of Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Matteo Cairoli took to the Algarve International Circuit for two races across a long, four-day weekend of European Le Mans Series action to round out the season.

4 Hours of Algarve

The championship in LMGTE was on the line throughout the weekend, with the #60 level on points with the #16 Proton Competition coming into the event. Heavy rain affected proceedings throughout both Thursday and Friday for the first race, the 4 Hours of Algarve, with Claudio qualifying the Porsche 911 RSR – 19 in 12th position in tricky conditions for Friday’s four-hour race.

The skies had cleared up for the start of the four hours, and Claudio took the opening section of the race. Managing rain showers and Safety Cars, he kept good pace through the demanding weather and gained positions to work into the top-eight before handing over to Matteo Cressoni.

Matteo’s first stint featured gaining huge amounts of time early on, before a Safety Car affected his progress. But as time went on, he was able to gain positions before handing over to Matteo Cairoli. During this section, and excellent work from the team during the final pitstop vaulted the #60 up to fourth for the restart with 37 minutes remaining.

Matteo had to resist pressure from three cars behind in what was a chaotic restart, in which the #55 Spirit of Race car, running in third at the time, hit an LMP2 and had to take a drive-through penalty, which elevated the #60 into the podium places.

While Matteo was closing up to the pair of Proton Competition cars ahead, he ran out of laps to put in a challenge to fight for the lead at the end. He brought the car home in third after opening up a comfortable advantage to the #57 Kessel Racing car in front. While the #60 lost some ground to the #16 Proton Competition car in the fight for the championship, it remained firmly in a four-way championship fight for Sunday’s four-hour race.

4 Hours of Portimão

The rain had hardly abated for the second event of the week. Qualifying was held in damp conditions and Claudio qualified 12th for the race, with an extra 30 kilograms of success ballast onboard. The rain was at some of its worst for the start of the race, which delayed it by 90 minutes. There was then a further 45-minute red flag when the four hours eventually did get going because of the horrible conditions.

Racing finally began with three hours on the clock. Due to the interruption, the drive times were changed, meaning Claudio only had to do one stint. He kept it out of trouble as conditions improved, before handing over to Matteo Cairoli.

The sun had come out for Matteo’s stint, and the lap times fell significantly, but his progress in the race was halted by a Safety Car. As the Safety Car ended, he handed over to Matteo Cressoni.

Matteo kept the car on the road and put in good lap times in amongst several FCY periods towards the end of the race. The points finish secured the team a top-three position in the final LMGTE standings to conclude a strong season.

Le Mans Cup

Also taking place at Portimão was the final round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup. Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Vincent Abril took the #63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO 2 to the Portuguese circuit for the 110-minute race to conclude the season. Like with ELMS, conditions were very tricky throughout the weekend.

In qualifying, the rain got worse as the session progressed so Hiroshi’s best effort in the early stages secured second on the grid and in the overall classification, such was the strength of the mechanical grip of the GT3 cars in those conditions to the LMP3s.

The conditions were little better for the start of the race on Sunday morning and all of the teams started their Bronze driver behind a lengthy Safety Car. Battling through the conditions, the LMP3s and Full Course Yellows, Hiroshi engaged in a brilliant battle with the #64 Team Parker Racing car for the lead right to the pitstop phase.

Hiroshi stayed out for a lap longer, and with a great in lap, a less busy pitlane and great work from the team, Vincent took the car and had a healthy five-second lead when he took the car over. Vincent’s out lap was very strong, and he opened the lead to 10 seconds as the rain intensified.

Several cars skated off the track in the tough conditions, including the #64 car, which left Vincent with a lead of half a minute before the Safety Car was called once again and then a subsequent red flag with 20 minutes remaining, meaning Hiroshi and Vincent took their first win of the season and climbed to sixth in the championship at the last race.

We are all immensely proud of the #60 crew to achieve their top-three finish in the European Le Mans Series season standings, taking the championship fight to the final race. This result repays the hard work of all the people who are part of the Iron Lynx family. The podium in Friday’s race, with great driving from the two Matteos and Claudio, was a brilliant result for the team, but we just did not quite have the pace in Sunday’s race in very challenging conditions.

The victory from our #63 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO 2 in the Michelin Le Mans Cup is really important to us because it marks a turning point after showing great performance all season through with our Lamborghini in all the championships without rewards. The victory from Claudio last week in the Italian GT Championship marked the start of a new direction! It was a fantastic race today with Hiroshi’s outstanding opening stint, excellent teamwork and Vincent bringing it home in worsening weather key to a historic win for the team on Sunday morning.

Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini