THE weekend’s season finale of the 2014 European Le Mans Series at Estoril in Portugal produced a race win for the Nissan-powered Sebastien Loeb Racing team and a popular championship victory for the Signatech Alpine team, which is also powered by the NISMO-tuned Nissan VK45DE V8 engine.
The European Le Mans Series is one of the most competitive championships for Le Mans Protoype 2 (LM P2) teams, illustrated by the fact it has seen five different winners from five races this year.
Following in the footsteps of Lucas Ordonez, Jann Mardenborough, Wolfgang Reip and Mark Shulzhitskiy, Portuguese racer and winner of 2013 GT Academy Europe Miguel Faisca made his LM P2 debut at The 4 Hours of Estoril and was thrown straight in at the deep end.
Faisca, in his first race in an aero car, proved he has what it takes to succeed by turning in a double stint that any professional racing driver would have been proud of.
“That was amazing,” said Faisca. “I did over 50 laps and I must say it felt great. I was out during the middle part of the race when a lot of the top drivers were on track and I was able to hold position and put in some good lap times. I am very happy with my debut.”
Shulzhitskiy, the 2012 GT Academy Russia winner, took the start of the four-hour race in the No.28 Greaves Motorsport entry. In an assured drive he burst through the field, moving up from seventh to fourth place overall on the opening lap. The Russian racer ran as high as third before coming unstuck while lapping GT cars but not before demonstrating that he is a future force to be reckoned with in Le Mans Prototype racing.
“It was a hard day for me,” said Shulzhitskiy. “The start and the opening part of the race was great but ultimately my mistake kept us off the podium. I overtook a Ferrari GT car on the inside and I got pushed wide on to the grass. When I put a little bit of power down the car began to slide and I had nowhere to go other than into the wall! This broke the suspension and some aerodynamic parts, so even though we got back into the race it was impossible to catch everyone up after that. It’s a real shame, as I wanted to end the season with a top result.”
Darren Cox, NISMO’s Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, said: “It was a good day for Nissan today. The organisers of this event did a good job to encourage the fans to come, and Nissan Portugal made sure that when they got here they had a great time. Miguel was a revelation today, putting in the sort of performance we would expect from one of the 2012 GT Academy graduates, not one of the class of 2013. Mark was unlucky and he should stop kicking himself, as he showed everyone how fast he is in a P2 car.”
Cox added: “Congratulations to Philippe Sinault and his Signatech Alpine team. Philippe knows how to run a team and he has shown everyone again how to win a title. With a Nissan engine of course!”