British racing driver, Tom Kimber-Smith, clinched the 2011 Le Mans Series LMP2 Championship title in fine style at Estoril. Tom guided his Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan to pole position and 2nd place in the race, but the single championship point awarded for pole was enough for him to put the crown out of reach for his main title-rivals. Tom’s superb effort in qualifying to claim the fastest LMP2 time and fourth fastest overall was all the more impressive given that he was driving with a painful hand injury.
Going into the final race of the Le Mans Series season at Estoril, Portugal, Tom (26) and his season-long Greaves Motorsport team-mate, Karim Ojjeh, were already significantly ahead in the title points standings, and their main challengers needed to win without them scoring in Portugal to steal the title away. But qualifying gave Tom and Karim the opportunity to put the matter to rest before the lights had even turned green for the race, and the team’s plan to go all out for pole position paid off.
Tom thus certainly underlined the fact that he is one of the very quickest professional drivers in the Le Mans Series, as at Estoril he not only claimed that all-important pole position (only just over 1.5s shy of the overall LMP1 pole time) but also recorded the fastest LMP2 race lap. However what puts his achievements at the weekend on a different level, is the fact that he was driving the car with a badly broken right hand, after an accident at home last week!
“Last week I tripped off my son’s stair-gate, fell down the stairs and broke my hand,” explains Tom. “After seeing hand specialists they said that I was OK to drive but would be in a lot of pain. But there was no way I was going to miss the last race at Estoril. The pain in the car was at times almost too much but I was determined not to let this get in the way of clinching the championship. To be honest I’m more nervous about the operation that I will be having to pin my hand than I was driving the car!”
Last weekend capped an amazing comeback season to professional driving for Tom, who has been the class act in LMP2 all season with three wins in the LMS Championship plus victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The former GT2 Le Mans winner has also been carrying out testing and driver coaching duties for Barwell Motorsport’s GT3 team during the course of the season, and for next year is looking to apply his skills to contest a full GT Championship programme in addition to his duties in prototype racing.