RLR MSport is going for broke by targeting the 2021 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) 4 Hours of Portimao victory (22-24 October) with Malthe Jakobsen, Alex Kapadia and Mike Benham, aware that third place in the LMP3 championship remains a distant possibility.
In 2020, RLR MSport opened the season with a podium and was on course to bookend the year on the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve winners’ rostrum, until it was side-lined by a starter motor failure.
This year, the Motul-powered team lifted silverware in the Barcelona curtain-raiser, and, although its season has been severely compromised by a run of misfortune, it still lies sixth in the LMP3 Teams’ and Drivers’ standings with an outside chance of finishing third in the definitive classification.
However, P3 in LMP3 is only achievable if RLR MSport races to a class victory and both the #2 United Autosports and #13 Inter Europol Competition entries fail to score in the Portimao finale, and Jakobsen said: “I’m going into the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Portimao to do my best and simply see where we end up. We need a first-place result and a bit of misfortune for other teams to achieve third in the final championship standings, so it’s out of our hands to an extent, but anything and everything can happen.
“I really like Autodromo Internacional do Algarve; it’s one of my favourite circuits, because it’s fun to drive and we went well there last year. In fact, we would have been on the podium had it not been for the starter motor failure. Still, we have a very good baseline setup to build upon this weekend. I just hope we’ve used up our bad luck for the season and we stay out of trouble.”
Kapadia added: “There’s a chance of finishing inside the top three in the European Le Mans Series LMP3 points and we’re going to be pushing for a win in the 4 Hours of Portimao because we’re no longer hindered by championship aspirations. In fact, we’re considering trying a different strategy in the race to shake things up, as we’re all so keen to end the 2021 season with a representative result, having had the pace to challenge for podiums or even wins in every race to date. Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is a track Mike (Benham), Malthe (Jakobsen) and I enjoy and understand, and we believe we will be among the best on the grid.”
In in the supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup, Tommy Foster returns to the RLR MSport fold for the first time since the Le Castellet Round in June, but he will face a large 31-car grid with a new teammate.
Horst Junior Felbemyr brings a wealth of experience, having entered five 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2007 and raced in the ELMS between 2005 and 2019.
The 50-year Austrian spent much of his career racing Porsche GT machinery with the family-owned Team Felbermyr-Proton squad, which in 2013 became Proton Competition, but will make his LMP3 debut in the final round of the 2021 Le Mans Cup at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
Foster said: “It’ll probably take me a handful of laps to familiarise myself with the car, but I’ve been on the simulator a lot and I’ll be able to refer back to the knowledge and experience I gained during my 2020 test with RLR MSport in Portimao. The test was very positive and ended strongly, as I was very satisfied with my pace compared to Malthe (Jakobsen), who already had a full season under his belt.
“I really enjoyed the whole experience and Autodromo Internacional do Algarve quickly became my favourite European track. It’s so technically demanding and it’s difficult to be consistent, but the challenge makes it incredibly fun and I’m excited about returning to the track for a full race weekend.”
Foster continued: “The Michelin Le Mans Cup field is basically the same as before, and I know we’re capable of winning, having stood on the top step of the podium in Barcelona at the start of the season. Of course, my new teammate Horst (Felbermyr) goes into this weekend with no LMP3 experience, but I have high hopes and I’ll do my absolute best to get him up-to-speed as soon as possible. We have nothing to lose, whereas those in the thick of championship battles may be a little more cautious.”