In a stunning climax to the Sports Prototype Cup 2023 Grand Finale at the iconic Le Mans circuit, Richard Morris emerged triumphant, claiming both the Revolution Trophy 2023 and the Sports Prototype Cup 2023 rankings awards. The event showcased an innovative format, featuring a two-hour race followed by two intense 20-minute sprints, injecting a strategic twist into the competition.
Le Mans welcomed two impressive newcomers to the Cup—Pedro Salvador (partnered with Joaquim Penteado) and Red Bull's Tim Tramnitz (teaming up with Dominik Dierkes). Both immediately made their mark, securing the top two qualifying spots in their Revolution 500SC and Revolution 427, respectively.
Race one, 2 hour enduro: Drama Unfolds on the Damp Track
The challenging conditions of a damp yet drying track prompted all 37 drivers to start on Goodyear wets. Penteado took an early lead, but the battle for supremacy unfolded rapidly. De Laet (teaming with Morris) seized the lead from Penteado on lap four, setting the stage for a gripping competition.
A safety car period after 15 minutes provided a pivotal moment for strategic pit stops. Jim Booth, driving solo in the 40-minute sprint class within the 2-hour race, strategically utilised the safety car for his mandatory stop. Meanwhile, Dierkes unfortunate exit from the race denied Tramnitz the chance to capitalise on his remarkable qualifying performance.
As the safety car pulled in, De Laet showcased exceptional pace, building a 12-second lead in just four laps. Penteado made the first pit stop, handing over to Salvador. Subsequently, De Laet pitted, passing the baton to Morris, adding a new dimension to the championship battle.
Morris held a significant 27-second lead over Salvador when the track conditions hinted at a potential switch to slick tires. However, Salvador's retirement at the 1-hour mark brought the battle to an early close. Morris continued to navigate the challenging conditions, completing his stint before De Laet took the chequered flag.
Morris's victory secured both the Revolution Trophy 2023 and Sports Prototype Cup 2023 rankings awards with two rounds still to go, enhancing his illustrious career achievements.
Sprint Races two and three: Booth’s maiden win
With the overall rankings settled in the two-hour enduro, races 2 and 3 provided exhilarating sprint races to cap off the season.
In race 2, Morris, starting from the back due to an administrative issue by the stewards, showcased his prowess by charging through the combined Cup and French Free Proto grid, clinching a class victory and extending his tally to five wins for the season.
Race 3 witnessed a captivating battle in treacherous wet conditions. De Laet, the outright fastest man on the wet circuit, faced a setback with just two laps to go, skidding off and making contact with the barrier at turn 10, allowed Jim Booth to seize his first Cup victory. Booth's confident yet prudent approach in the challenging conditions marked a memorable debut at Le Mans.
The Le Mans Sports Prototype Cup winners:
Qualifying: Pedro Salvador
Race 1: Richard Morris/Milan de Laet
Race 2: Richard Morris
Race 3: Jim Booth
The end of season awards:
Adding an extra layer of prestige to the Sports Prototype Cup, B.R.M Chronographes, the esteemed timing partner, bestowed exclusive limited edition B.R.M. Hybride watches upon three exceptional drivers for their outstanding performances. These timepieces, synonymous with precision and craftsmanship, symbolise the fusion of innovation and motorsport excellence.
The recipients of these coveted watches were:
Richard Morris: BRM U.K.-European Trophy winner
Joaquim Penteado: Vice-Champion
Milan De Laet: BRM Speed Award winner
The Sports Prototype Cup
The Sports Prototype Cup multi-class format for the world's most extreme prototype cars creates a ‘Race within the Race’ concept meaning that each model of car benefits from equal promotion, rather than having a class hierarchy and offering prototype racers the opportunity to race at current F1 and LMP circuits. No rival championship can offer that mix of premium circuits.
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