Pescarolo Sport and Michelin successfully defend their title
Pescarolo Sport-Michelin's three-man line-up of Jean-Christophe Boullion, Emmanuel Collard and Didier André made sure of a second consecutive title for the French team in the premier category of the Le Mans Series at Donington this weekend. The Pescarolo C60 Judd-Michelin picked up its fourth win of the 2006 season at the East Midlands venue ahead of the two British Creation Autosportif-Michelin prototypes. Victory in LMP2 went to the MG-Lola-Michelin of Erdos/Newton, while LMGT1 honours went to the Modena Aston Martin-Michelin following a race-long scrap with the Corvette-Michelin of Policand/Alphand/Goueslard. Michelin runners monopolised the podium in the LMP1, LMP2 and LMGT1 categories.
Pescarolo Sport and the two drivers who have spearheaded its 2006 campaign, Jean-Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard (joined this weekend by Didier André) have been the dominating force throughout this year's Le Mans Series. And with just one round to come (in Spain, at the end of September), the Henri Pescarolo-owned outfit successfully clinched the 2006 LMP1 title today thanks to a fourth win from four starts.
The N°17 Pescarolo-Michelin (Collard/Boullion/André) completed 249 laps of Donington Park which was visited this weekend for the very first time by the LMS prototypes and which features relatively low grip in the dry before crossing the line with a two-lap advantage over the Creation-Michelin of Minnassian/McGarrity. The final gap fails to mirror the ferocity of the scrap that developed between the top prototypes in today's sunshine however.
After qualifying in 3rd position, the Pescarolo-Michelin soon eased ahead, although the Courage-Michelin of Primat/Fassler was only ten seconds adrift when it was stopped in its tracks by a gearbox problem. Two hours into the race, which attracted a big crowd in support of the British teams, the pack was led by the Creation- Michelin of Minnassian/McGarrity, but at the midway point the Pescarolo-Michelin was back in front, closely trailed by the Zytek-Michelin of Johansson/Noda which emerged at the top of the leaderboard shortly afterwards. However, the Zytek O6S was hit by clutch problems, leaving the Pescarolo-Michelin of Boullion/Collard/André to cruise home to a fourth consecutive win which also ensured the point the team it needed to maintain its LMP1 crown.
Before being sidelined by mechanical problems, the Radical SR9 of Short/Barbosa/Barff proved to be the dominant force in the LMP2 category. The MG-Lola-Michelin of Erdos/Newton also had a troubled day, finishing the race practically at a crawl because of a wheel fixation problem, yet that didn't prevent it from taking its first win of the year after its two 2nd places to date. The Pilbeam of Rostan/Bruneau and the Lola of Binnie/Timpany/Hanckok finished 2nd and 3rd respectively to make it an all-Michelin podium in LMP2.
The fourth round of the championship provided an evenly matched fight in the LMGT1 category which saw the Aston Martin-Michelin of Garcia/Hardman take control when the 'former generation' Corvette-Michelin C5.R of Policand/Alphand/Goueslard was hit by a brake calliper problem while seemingly on target to secure its first success of the year. The Saleen of Ortelli/Ayari was also very quick before disappearing with engine failure.
Gérard Bombled, Race Manager of Michelin's Touring Car and FIA GT Programmes: "It was an extremely exciting race in every category. A big bravo to Pescarolo Sport which once again didn't put a foot wrong in LMP1, but the Swiss Spirit Courage and the Zytek could have sprung a surprise had they not suffered mechanical problems. Before its clutch problem, the Zytek had planned to triple stint. The Michelin-equipped prototypes all double-stinted, while the Pescarolo covered 90 laps with the same set of medium compound tyres. The majority of our partner teams chose soft or medium compound rubber because Donington is not a particularly hard- wearing circuit. Michelin equipped 15 of the cars racing this weekend and monopolised the podium in all three categories in which we were present."