Matt Griffin lauded the European Le Mans Series as the most competitive championship he’s ever competed in following the ACO’s unveiling of a record 44-car entry for 2016.
Four different teams won a race in the GTE class last year, although it would have been five in as many races had Griffin not been delayed on the final lap in Austria by a spinning LMP2 car, which allowed the Formula Racing Ferrari through.
Nine cars will contest the GTE class in 2016, including five Ferraris, two Porsches and two Aston Martins. 2013 champion Griffin will once again share an AF Corse-entered Ferrari 458 Italia with long-time co-driver Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott.
“I’ve raced every single GT championship in the world from Asia to America and the World Endurance Championship and to be honest last year was the most competitive championship I’ve ever done in my life,” Griffin told Racing.GT. “At any race, theoretically any car can win its class and I’ve never been in a championship where that’s been the case.
“There’s usually two or three guys who end up fighting for the win, but in the ELMS the only time we had a double winner was the Formula Racing car, which won in Austria – narrowly beating me – and then was very lucky with the Safety Cars in Paul Ricard. If that didn’t happen, you would have had five different winners in five races, which is testament to the championship really.”
The 4 Hours of Imola was a perfect showcase for the series, with Alessandro Pier Guidi prevailing for AT Racing after an enthralling five-way battle for the lead after the final stops. The Italian’s winning margin over the fifth placed Griffin/Cameron/Scott Ferrari was just 20 seconds.
After taking the fight to the wire two years in a row, Griffin is naturally hungry to add a second title in 2016, but with the quality of opposition unrelenting, the Irishman expects another ferocious battle.
“I won it in 2013, I finished second in 2014 and finished third last year, so I don’t like the direction I’m going!” he said. “The aim is to win the championship next year, but not being outside the top three since 2012 which was the first year I did it shows that I’ve got a good handle on the championship.
“The 458 is a very strong car and has been really consistent over the years it’s been racing. It’s a good all-round package and I think Ferrari promote the best customer support for non-factory teams, which explains why a lot of the entries are Ferraris. But saying that, this year in the ELMS we’ll have an Aston Martin and a couple more Porsches. Having a few different makes is good because different cars have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s going to be tough as always.”