RLR MSport pressed on to “frustrating” fourth and seventh-place finishes in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) 4 Hours of Aragon ‘into the night’ race (24-26 August), in which the team was mired by a series of unfortunate events.

Horst Jr Felbermayr, Mateusz Kaprzyk and Gael Julien once again finished on the cusp of the LMP3 podium, a few places and laps ahead of James Dayson, Jack Manchester and Valdemar Eriksen, who survived a turbulent race in a respectable P7.

It was a relatively clean start to the 4 Hours of Aragon and Felbermayr in the #15 Ligier JSP320 LMP3 only fell one position from seventh to eighth, as Dayson dragged the #5 from 12th into the top ten in class.

In fact, gains were made by both drivers in an LMP3 pack that stayed tightly bunched for the duration of the first hour, Felbermayr ascending into the top six and joining the #12 WTM by Rinaldi Racing and #31 Racing Spirit of Leman cars in the fight for fourth.

There was soon a big spread of strategies as some teams elected to box early, and RLR MSport was in fact among the last of the stoppers, pulling both cars in just before the Safety Car took to the circuit.

Felbermayr and Dayson stayed aboard until half-distance, but the latter had a troubled run; he span and backed into the gravel as he swept through Turns 4 and 5 just after his first pit visit and lost laps while trying to restart the stricken prototype.

The Vancouver, Canada-based Am was then deemed to have caused a collision earlier in the race, earning a drive-through penalty that dropped the #5 crew back down to the edge of the top ten, although teammates Manchester and Eriksen were able to improve and convert their pace into a seventh-place points result at the chequered flag.

Poland’s Kaprzyk, though, went great guns as day gave way to night, frequently dipping into the low 1m57s while circulating solidly in fifth, and the #15 trio then made further progress up to fourth on the LMP3 leaderboard during Julien’s first ever race stint in full darkness.

Julien said: “It was a weekend of ups and downs, but we’ll take this fourth-place finish in the European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Aragon. Qualifying was going well until I made a mistake that impacted my run and cost us a top three grid spot. Nevertheless, Horst (Jr Felbermayr), Mateusz (Kaprzyk) and RLR MSport pulled another solid job to come back in the race.

“For me, MotorLand Aragon was very tricky to drive, with changing conditions and a lot of traffic. All-in-all, we kept our noses clean and brought home more important championship points. Now that my first night race is over, I’m very much looking forward to competing at one of my most favourite venues, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.”

Kaprzyk added: “It was another very intense and demanding European Le Mans Series weekend. It hurts a bit to finish fourth again and just miss out on the podium result we’ve been targeting, but I can be very happy with my own performance and the work put in by the entire RLR MSport team.

“We were a bit too far away to challenge for third place when my stint started but I gave it my best and we had really good pace, gaining some positions. There are still three races to go and it’s getting quite tight in the LMP3 standings so we would like to fight for podiums, not only in the individual races, but also in the final championship classification. I cannot wait for the next round at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, but I’ve switched from racing driver to fan, because I’m massively grateful to have been invited by my sponsor, PKN ORLEN, to the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort as a guest of Scuderia Alpha Tauri!”

Eriksen said: “The European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Aragon weekend was ok, as we had really good pace in free practice but gambled on an ultra-low downforce setup in qualifying, which really didn’t work. However, our race pace was our strong suit.

“I felt very comfortable racing in complete darkness and was looking forward to getting stuck in to my stint, despite qualifying poorly in 12th. James (Dayson) did a great first stint, but things began to fall apart later on, which meant we lost around three-to-four laps to the rest of the field. It’s a shame, because we could have been up there with the pace we possessed.”

Manchester added: “It was another rough race for us at MotorLand Aragon. Some misfortune and a minor fuelling issue meant we lost a few laps to the leaders before I got into the car, but I loved being at the wheel as the sun went down and drove my best stint of the season so far.

“The pace from James (Dayson), Valdemar (Eriksen) and myself across the race was also strong, meaning we could fight back into the points and show some good grit and determination in the face of adversity. We will take these positive on to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and I hope we have now had our full quota of bad luck for the year. Bring on Round 4!”

Dayson said: “The European Le Mans Series 4 Hours of Aragon was a pretty tough race and I’m frustrated about what happened. I made a mistake at Turn 5 on my out-lap from the pits, spinning and then rolling off the track into the gravel to get out of the way. I couldn’t refire the car and lost another lap during the Safety Car, but I was pleased to get it going again. I then received a ridiculous drive-through penalty for contact that occurred when I got squeezed by an Aston Martin GTE earlier in the first stint, which didn’t help our cause.

“After that, I then discovered we had issues with fuelling and I had to come into the pits for a third time. Jack (Manchester) and Valdemar (Eriksen) did a good job and I’m pleased to get some points out of the race for finishing seventh, but I was fighting cars that ended up on the podium and it’s frustrating not to have been up there with them. Hopefully we can have some better luck next time.”