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Portimão Preview: 19 Cars For The Season Finale

DSC looks at the LMP3 and GT3 field for the final race of the 2017 season

The 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup reaches its final round at the Algarve International Circuit at Portimão, with 19 entries set to take to the track. While the LMP3 championship was decided last time out, the GT3 title race is set to reach an intriguing conclusion on Sunday.

Here’s a look at the field in both classes:

Can DKR win its fourth race in a row?

With only 25 points available at Portimão, the top three positions in the LMP3 standings are all but ecided.

DKR Engineering and its #3 Norma M30 won the title last time out at Spa, so the pressure’s off for Jean Glorieux and Alexander Toril.

The Luxembourg-based team, owned by Kendy Janclaes, has enjoyed a dominating year in the prototype class. With wins at La Sarthe, the Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps and a second-place finish at the season-opener at Monza, the team has only had a single poor result this season – a non-finish in the first ‘Road to Le Mans’ race.

33 points behind DKR Engineering sits Corby, UK-based Nielsen Racing on 80 points. The team has enjoyed an excellent season with a win at the opening round at Monza and second places, albeit behind its closest rival DKR Engineering, at the Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps. A poor showing at the two ‘Road to Le Mans’ races at La Sarthe has spoiled an otherwise highly consistent run in the championship.

Third in the LMP3 teams standing is the #65 GRAFF JS P3, piloted by Emilien Carde and Adrien Chila. Being 25.5 points behind second means that only by scoring a win and pole position, and having Nielsen Racing retire can they move up the order.

13 cars are entered in the LMP3 category. Missing from the provisional entry list from those entered for the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps is the #33 Ibran Pardo Javier Ligier JS P3 piloted by Javier Ibran and Mathijs Bakker. Also unable to make the trip is #40 GRAFF Ligier which was driven to 14th place at Spa by Richard Bradley and William Lok.

Joining the grid meanwhile, is the #39 GRAFF Ligier with the driver line-up of Eric Trouillet and Scott Andrews.

Other changes in the prototype field include the replacement at Duqueine Engineering of Kenton Koch in its #9 Ligier. Jonatan Jorge will be sharing the driving duties with Joël Janco.

And in addition to that, Andrew Bentley will be driving the #23 United Autosports Ligier alongside Richard Meins, replacing Shaun Lynn.

Tight fight set for GT3

The GT3 championship is, however, far closer. Ebimotors and its #46 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Emanuele Busnelli and Fabio Babini sits at the top of the teams standings, just seven points ahead of Lee Mowle and his #7 Mercedes AMG GT3 that he will be sharing with Phil Keen at Portimão.

The Italian team from Cermenate has enjoyed wins at the Red Bull Ring and Le Castellet with podium position finishes at Monza, Le Sarthe and Spa-Francorchamps. Lee Mowle has also had two victories, at Monza and Spa as well as a second-place finish at Le Castellet A disappointing 13th-place finish in the first ‘Road to Le Mans’ race at La Sarthe has cost the team dearly in the fight for the championship.

Sitting in third place in the GT3 category on 58 points is the #8 SVC Sport Management Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Cédric Mezard and Steeve Hiesse. With Optimum Racing, in fourth place, not entered for the final round, their position in the championship will remain unchallenged.

The class has a total of six entries for the final round. Kessel Racing has entered its #93 Ferrari F488 GT3 to be driven by the all-Italian driver line-up of Claudio Schiavoni and Andrea Piccini.

Qualifying for the Michelin Le Mans Cup field takes place on Saturday 15:40 local time with the lights going out for two-hour race on Sunday at 09:00am.