Matt Griffin had a mixed 2016 in the European Le Mans Series. The Irish GT ace proved once again to be one of the fastest drivers in the demanding GTE field.
The Ferrari driver faced a lot of bad luck in the first half of the season but later, along with his team-mates at AF Corse, he was able to bounce back, fighting for class victories and collecting some podiums.
We recently interviewed Matt Griffin about his year in the ELMS with Ferrari, the opening round of the Asian Le Mans Series at Zhuhai and more.
You had a fantastic battle with Marco Cioci for GT victory in Asian Le Mans Series opener at Zhuhai, tell us more about that.
It was great final Stint and a really tough fight between Marco and I. We have been friends for a long time and have raced with and against each other many times over the last few years so know each other very well. Basically It was 1h15minutes of qualifying laps. In the end I finished 2nd a second behind but I was proud to be part of that race.
How emotional was it to clinch two podiums at Spa-Francorchamps and Estoril after a frustrating first half of the season?
For sure the 1st part of 2016 did not go to plan, the speed was always there but the luck wasn’t. The definition of this was at Le Mans where I set the fastest lap but we had a problem with the manifold which caused us to spend extended time in the pits. The speed paid off though, I'm not sure about emotional but it was gratifying for sure to finish with consecutive podiums and again another podium in rd1 of the Asian Le Mans series.
Do you agree that both AF Corse entries were strong but very unlucky this year in the European Le Mans Series?
AF Corse are one of the top teams in the world and every time they enter a car its going to be really strong. I am fortunate enough to usually be sat in one of their cars ! The ELMS now is so competitive that every single car on the grid is capable of winning the race so to build a championship challenge you definitely need things to go your way. I thinks its fair to say that a few times this year my car and the 51 were less then lucky!
What are your thoughts on Ferrari and JMW Motorsport losing the title in the finale in Portugal?
It is very difficult loosing the title like that, I know as I was in that position in 2014 were we came with a large lead in the championship and ended up finishing 2nd. That is motorsport though and its never over until the cheqered flag falls. JMW are a great team though so I am sure they will come back strong and I hope to see them in the ELMS in 2017.
Earlier this year we have asked you about the high number of LMP3 cars in the series, was that an inssue for GTE competitors this year?
LMP3 has been very popular and the grid of LMP3 cars is in ELMS is very big. There is a definite issue with LMP3, I think it comes down to the fact that the time gap between Gte and LMP3 is quite small and some of the drives in LMP3 are very inexperienced. When you look at estoril, the gap to the fastest driver in LMP3 to the slowest in LMP3 was approx 7 seconds per lap. At this level that gap is too big. I think the ACO need to look at regulations with regard to LMP3 speed.
In 2017 both ELMS GTE and FIA WEC GTE-Am will welcome the Ferrari 488 GTE, any chances to see you drive the new car in one of the two series?
At the moment I don’t know my programme. For sure the 488 is a great car. While the 488 will be allowed I think the ACO plan to balance the cars so essentially the 458 and other 2015 cars will be able to compete.
Photos: Ferrari Media