Algarve Pro Racing’s Kyffin Simpson, James Allen and Alex Lynn charged from last on the grid to third in the 2023 running of the 4 Hours of Aragón, securing a well-deserved podium finish and overall points lead in the European Le Mans Series standings.
LMP2 winners in France, the #25 Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa ORECA 07 looked every bit as competitive at MotorLand Aragón, Spain, as testing got underway on Wednesday.
Temperatures soared as high as 40°C through the week leading up to the race, adding an extra layer of challenge to the already highly physical nature of endurance racing, but Simpson and his teammates were undeterred. The #25 regularly featured in the top five on timesheets and headed into qualifying with high hopes of securing a front-row start.
Saturday brought cooler temperatures with it – and even the mild threat of rain. Despite a few short showers, the track remained dry for the morning’s qualifying session with James Allen at the wheel. Unfortunately, a freak mechanical issue prevented APR from setting a representative time in the session.
With series regulations dictating the start order, Algarve Pro Racing would line up 42nd on the grid, behind all other cars on track including the LMP2 Pro and Pro/AM fields, LMP3s and GT3s.
Allen took the race start, making quick work of the GT3 and LMP3 fields in the opening laps. By the end of his two stints, Algarve Pro had successfully joined the battle at the front of the field – now eighth overall.
Despite their ranking, APR’s gap to the cars ahead was still significant and needed a stroke of fortune to bring them fully into contention. A safety car period at the 90-minute mark was exactly that. Making the most of the opportunity, the team opted to pit slightly early to allow Simpson to take over.
Simpson now had the leaders in sight, less than 10 seconds ahead as the race resumed. Delivering what’s quickly becoming a ‘trademark Kyffin drive’ of consistency and speed, Simpson carved his way through the field to 4th overall as the sun began to set over Aragón.
Another quick driver changed put Lynn behind the wheel with 1h 40m to go, and a final full-course-yellow period set the stage for what would be a dramatic chase for overall victory. The leading trio of United Autosports, IDEC Sport and Algarve Pro Racing inched their way clear of the field, regularly no more than two seconds apart themselves.
APR gave it everything, but in the end settled for a well-deserved third place as the chequered flag flew at 22:00 local time.
Speaking after the race, Kyffin said:
“P3! A great race, for sure. James started the race off strong and we were able to get right back into the LMP2 Pro fight by the time I took over. From there, we just made our way forwards with every stint. The team did a brilliant job with our pit stops and strategy. I think we had one of the strongest cars this weekend and we put it to good use, despite starting right at the back of the field. I can’t wait to get to Spa for the next one. The track looks incredible, and I’m sure the team will give us another opportunity to fight for a win there.”
With three of six ELMS rounds complete, Algarve Pro Racing next travel to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium for Round 4 of the series, September 24 2023.
Kyffin’s next event is Round 12 of INDY NXT by Firestone at Portland International Raceway this coming September 1-3 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.