Ajlani just misses out on ELMS podium at Imola

09:13 AM in 2014 ELMS

  • Strong race rewarded with P4 at round two

Karim Ajlani and ART Grand Prix made it two top-five GTC class finishes in as many European Le Mans Series races after finishing fourth at last weekend’s 4 Hours of Imola in Italy (May 17/18).

Just like at Silverstone last month, the Swiss-Syrian and co-drivers Alex Brundle and Ricardo Gonzalez were forced to fight back from a lowly grid slot, but this time also had to overcome a degree of adversity on race day.

Having lined-up eighth after yellow flags ruined their fastest qualifying lap, the team’s task was made even more difficult when Gonzalez lost a further place at the busy first corner on lap one. But the Mexican would more than make amends over his opening stint by moving up to fourth by the time Ajlani climbed aboard the #99 McLaren 12C GT3 after 45 minutes.

Imola’s narrow but fast layout was making for some fantastic racing across the classes, and none more so than in GTC. With the opening round of pit-stops out of the way, Ajlani found himself in a three-way battle for sixth with the Team Russia by Barwell BMW and Pro GT by Almeras Porsche. Lap after lap the trio fought tooth and nail before Karim ran wide while shadowing the Z4, which dropped him to P9.

Fortunately no harm was done, allowing the car to safely re-join still in contention. Indeed, Ajlani would spend the remainder of his stint maintaining the gap to those ahead and was up to seventh when Gonzalez took the wheel with an hour and 40 minutes complete.

Having seen his co-driver continue the good work, Karim returned to the cockpit for his second and final stint just before the Safety Car was deployed. Once racing resumed he was able to hold station in sixth before handing over to Alex Brundle, who passed one car on-track and jumped another through the pit-stop sequence to come home as the highest placed non-Ferrari GTC entry in fourth.

Ajlani returns to ELMS action on July 19/20 at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.