Simpson, Allen, Lynn fifth in ELMS opener

Algarve Pro Racing’s Kyffin Simpson, James Allen and Alex Lynn battled back to a fifth-place finish in the 2023 European Le Mans Series season opener in Barcelona last weekend, after a mid-race collision with lapped traffic beached the #25 Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa ORECA 07 LMP2 machine in the gravel.

APR looked the team to beat from Wednesday morning’s first ‘Prologue’ test day, topping the timesheets with the only sub-1m30s lap time. Immediately happy with the feel of the car, Kyffin and the team made minimal changes through the week and continued to set the pace, culminating in a front-row qualifying result for Sunday’s 4 hours at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, Spain.

Kyffin took race start, pressuring the leading #47 COOL Racing machine through the first fuel stint and breaking clear from the chasing pack. Once LMP3 and GT3 traffic became a factor, Simpson decisively took the race lead from #47 and never looked back. An impressive stint allowed Kyffin to extend the #25’s lead into a double-digit second advantage.

After a driver change pit stop just before the halfway point, James settled into a good rhythm to maintain APR’s race lead. The two-hour mark was the point at which APR’s fortunes turned. Allen was caught completely unsighted by an over-ambitious move from a lapped car behind, looking to unlap itself. The resulting contact and spin beached the #25 in the gravel, requiring a tow back to the racing surface.

This heart-breaking incident dealt a near race-ending blow to the team, with the team finding itself a lap down and 12th overall in LMP2 with less than two hours left in the race. A testament to APR’s true potential, James and Alex powered back to fifth in class by the chequered flag.

Speaking after the race, Kyffin said:

“Tough race. The first hour and a half went really well. The car was super quick and I was able to get to P1 in the first stint, pulling out a pretty good gap over P2. After James took over, he was really unfortunate to be taken out by lapped traffic. He got beached and that was that. James, Alex and the team pushed hard to get back as much time as we could but coming from a lap down was always going to be a challenge.”

“P5 in the end. I have to thank James and Alex for their efforts, David for his setup work and APR for executing a flawless week right through from Tuesday to Sunday. We just got unlucky. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Barcelona. The track’s fun to drive and I’m looking forward to the next ELMS round.”

Alex Lynn, fellow Chip Ganassi Racing driver, added:

“It’s a disappointing end to an amazing week in general. The whole Algarve Pro Racing team flew from the very beginning of the Prologue to the very end of the race, but, sadly, one thing went wrong and that was enough to cost us the win. We won’t get disheartened because we have a lot of pace in our car and driver line-up, so we’ll regroup, go to Circuit Paul Ricard and take what we feel is ours.”

James Allen said:

“This result is definitely a tough one to take, as the car had good speed all week. I qualified well, Kyffin (Simpson) drove exceptionally and handed me the car in the lead, which I was able to hold onto until I was hit by a lapped car, leaving me in the gravel. I expected more care from a driver trying to unlap themselves from the race leader.”

“Ultimately, it’s very disappointing to not walk away with the win I felt we deserved, but I can’t thank Algarve Pro Racing and my teammates enough for everything they have done to make us as competitive as we were in Barcelona. We will take the points and move on, focusing on the next round of the championship.”

With one of six ELMS rounds complete, Algarve Pro Racing next travel to Circuit Paul Ricard, France for Round 2 of the series, July 16th 2023.

Kyffin’s next event is Round 2 of INDY NXT by Firestone at Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham AL this coming April 29th-30th weekend.

Kyffin Simpson is a Chip Ganassi Racing development driver supported by The American Legion, Ridgeline Lubricants, InvestCayman, Visit Cayman Islands, Boddens Legal, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa Grand Cayman, Simpson Race Products and Kokoro Media.

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