Engine troubles affect Matteo Cairoli’s ELMS Race at Imola

Matteo Cairoli’s tough adventure at the 2024 4 Hours of Imola of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) ended up in a retirement just a few minutes from the finish. During the weekend of July 7, 2024, the Santerno circuit hosted the third round of the European series organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). It was the first home race on the continental ELMS calendar, especially for the Iron Lynx team, although the partnership with Proton Competition sees them entered in the championship as a German team on the #9 Oreca 07 LMP2. The second Italian round of the season is scheduled at Mugello in autumn. As always, alongside the Italian driver were Jonas Ried, a member of the family that founded the Proton team, and Maceo Capietto, the French one in his debut season in the ELMS.

Cairoli was the fastest of the crew during the first free practice session, who has also taken qualifying. It has been a complicated session, which ended with 13th place in 1:31.718, gaining 7th row in the LMP2 class. Nevertheless, the grid was way firm, with a final gap of 0.8s from pole position. Despite a red flag that interrupted the qualifying, it would have been difficult to do better, as the search for performance was laborious throughout the weekend, due to engine problems that worsened during the Emilian event.

The start was entrusted to Ried, who recovered positions in the first part of the race and entered into the top 10 in class. Cairoli got in the car for the second stint, the central phase of the race, in which he found himself battling with other LMP2 cars for the top-10. However, after handing over the wheel to Capietto for the final part of the race, an engine problem appeared 19 minutes before the checkered flag, when the #9 was in 9th place in the class. This led to a retirement in the final stages, forcing the Iron Lynx-Proton team to remain on 2 points in the standings.

Next round of ELMS will be on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on August 25, a round that follows a summer break which marks the end of the first half of the 2024 season. Cairoli will be behind the wheel in July, competing in the next round of the GT World Challenge Europe – Endurance Cup at Nurburgring on July 28.