Gulf Racing ELMS Imola race report

The weekend of the 16th & 17th May saw Gulf Racing travel to the infamous Imola race circuit in Italy for the second round of the ELMS championship. Coming to the event off the back of a resounding win in the GTE class at the Silverstone season opener the team had high hopes to continue the run and take more points towards their title campaign.

The first practice session saw wet conditions and with an anticipation of a dry day for qualifying and the race the team took the opportunity for some wet testing and an evaluation of the car performance on wet tyres for the forthcoming events.

In the second practice session the track was dry so all drivers were cycled through the car starting with Adam Carroll, Gulf Racing resident Pro, who confirmed that the setup and balance of the car was good to go.

With a successful dry practice session completed the team were confident of the pace of the car for Qualifying with a few minor changes, however, when the qualifying session came around the following day the team started their run of bad luck for the weekend as Adam found his best laps compromised by the need to slow for yellow flags twice, resulting in a disappointing 8th place when his best sectors were good enough to see him in 4th.

After two of the cars ahead had their times removed for track violations and legality checks a promotion to 6th place start for the race had the team’s prospects looking up. After a stunning first stint and a lightening first pitstop by the crew, starting driver Phil Keen found himself in 2nd as he started out for his 2nd hour stint in the car, however after only a few laps an unfortunate contact with a particularly harsh curb caused enough damage that an unscheduled and elongated pit stop for temporary repairs was needed.

After dropping around six laps into 8th place for the repairs the team never really stood a chance of recovering and strong stints from Mike Wainwright and Adam Carroll to finish were to no avail. The 8th place finish still saw the team capture a handful of points and with other teams dropping points vs their Silverstone performance the #86 Car retained a strong 2nd place in the Championship standings only 3 points behind the leaders.

Team Manager Matt Beers: “We had our share of bad luck here in Imola and while it’s disappointing to have such a result, where we could have pulled out a lead in the championship, we have seen that actually we are a very competitive prospect and that bodes well for the rest of the year. I’m sure we can come back strong at Red Bull Ring and we are really looking forward to fighting for the win there.”