Returning to ELMS action following a spirited run at last month’s Le Mans 24 Hours, the team’s driver line-up of Simon Dolan and Oliver Turvey were keen to resume their title challenge aboard the Zytek-Nissan machine.
Their efforts began promisingly as Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 Test Driver Turvey secured the squad’s third series pole position from as many races with a lap of 1m23.871s. The Briton had initially occupied second on the timesheets before the rival Signatech-Alpine was penalised for setting its best lap when the circuit was neutralised by caution flags.
Turvey then took the start of the three-hour contest and confidently maintained the advantage, building a significant gap over the second-place car. Continuing at this pace, the Jota entry would enjoy a lead in excess of 10 seconds by the time he took his first pit-stop.
Unfortunately it was here that the team’s battle for victory would suffer a severe blow. Unaware that the limiter had not engaged when he entered the pits, Turvey crept marginally over the maximum speed, though the 26-year-old was able to quickly slow it down again.
However this would cost the team dear as they were soon hit with a 30-second stop-go penalty. Factoring in the time it takes to enter and exit the pits at reduced speed this would add up to over a minute, relegating the Jota machine down the order.
When back on track Turvey set a rapid pace as he looked to make up lost time before handing over to team-mate Dolan at half-race distance in fifth spot. His fellow countryman would continue in the same form, proving among the fastest competitors on-track throughout his stint. But, despite delivering an excellent performance, Dolan’s chances of catching the class leaders were scuppered by the earlier penalty.
He would eventually advance a further position on his way to fourth, securing a clutch of ELMS championship points in the process. By the flag Dolan had closed the gap on the final podium spot to just half a minute, further highlighting that the Jota car possessed the pace to fight for outright victory.
Simon Dolan, Jota Sport driver: “It’s a shame that our race was ruined by the 30-second stop-go penalty. To lose a full minute for briefly creeping over the pit-land speed limit seems somewhat excessive. Without that we were in the mix for the win, so naturally we’ll leave here wondering what could have been.
“In terms of my own performance I’m happy with how things went. I had a good first stint, but a flat spot during the second made life a little trickier. Hopefully we can have an untroubled run next time out, as the car clearly has the pace to win.”
Oliver Turvey, Jota Sport driver: “Qualifying went really well and it was great to get pole again – three from three in the ELMS is certainly very satisfying for the whole team. Come the race I was able to build a great lead, but unfortunately everything went wrong at the first stop. I thought the limiter had engaged and of course when I realised it hadn’t I immediately slowed down again. However that cost us very dearly as the penalty added over a minute to our race time, which all but ruled us out of contention.
“It’s very frustrating, but ultimately we can only look at the positives: the pace was excellent and Simon drove extremely strongly when I handed over to him, so there’s plenty to build on going forward.”
Sam Hignett, Jota Sport team principal: “Naturally we’re very disappointed by how the penalty affected us, as I feel we could now be talking about a race victory rather than P4. However, I’d prefer to focus on the positives. This weekend we’ve seen another superb pole lap from Oliver, who also delivered an excellent first stint. Meanwhile Simon was again right at the sharp end. He was one of the fastest drivers on-track throughout his stint, while the extra position he gained us could prove crucial in terms of points. Had luck gone our way there’s no reason we couldn’t have fought for victory.”
Jota Sport will be aiming to return to winning ways when the ELMS resumes at grand prix circuit the Hungaroring on 14 September.