Dramatic victory for Audi at Silverstone

Audi Playstation Team Oreca won the Le Mans Endurance Series race at Silverstone after an intense race-long battle. The Audi R8 ran in second place for most of the race with the gap to the leader changing regularly due to Safety Car periods. Allan...

Audi Playstation Team Oreca won the Le Mans Endurance Series race at Silverstone after an intense race-long battle. The Audi R8 ran in second place for most of the race with the gap to the leader changing regularly due to Safety Car periods. Allan McNish pushed hard to close the gap and moved into the lead during the final hour. He then handed over to Stephane Ortelli who fended off a strong challenge during the final minutes to win by just under seven seconds.

"It was one of the hardest races I have ever competed in", said McNish. "The race itself went very well from the team's point of view. The car worked very well, the balance was good in the wet. I think we had more speed than the Creation but they made life very difficult for us." Ortelli added: "It was very special at the end. I had a good car and a very good team-mate. He did a very good job in the middle of the race. I would love to congratulate the whole team."

Creation Autosportif finished in second place despite Nicolas Minassian and Jamie Campbell Walter leading in the DBA Judd for most of the race. Minassian started in pole position and, apart from briefly losing the lead in a frantic first lap, pulled out a large lead. In the latter half of the race Campbell Walter pushed hard and resisted McNish as much as possible but a Safety Car period reduced the gap from 25 seconds to 3 seconds and this allowed McNish to challenge and ultimately take the place. Campbell Walter hounded Ortelli during the closing laps but was not able to retake the lead.

"It was good but a bit disappointing," said Minassian. "If you finish second you are the first loser. I did the first stint and the weather was really bad. We had a little problem with the gearbox - the paddle-shift wasn't working so we lost a little bit with that. I handed over to Jamie and he did a fantastic job."

"It was very hard to see", said Campbell Walter. "Creation have done a fantastic job. We had an electronic problem with the gearbox which was making it difficult. It was going fantastically well. The Safety Car went our way a few times and didn't at other times, and it seesawed like that. We should have won it but it's a tough race. Silverstone is very flat and it's difficult to see where you are going round here. Second is a good result."

Rollcentre Racing put in a solid performance to take third position. The Dallara Judd LMP 900 of Joao Barbosa, Martin Short and Vanina Ickx kept on the track and avoided any major problems to gradually move up the field and third place was assured in the final two hours when the Lister Racing Storm of Jan Magnussen and Jens Moller had a long pitstop and dropped down the field.

"I feel a bit of a fraud next to these illustrious people as we've kept out of trouble and waited for other people to drop the ball", said Martin Short. "Barbosa put in a fantastic job as always. Vanina had the easiest run as the conditions were a little better for her but as usually she did a fantastic job. They put it in third place and all I had to do was plod home."

The first half of the race was plagued by bad weather with the rain that had fallen all afternoon showing no sign of stopping. The rain became light on some occasions and heavy at other times and the conditions, combined with many spins and accidents around the circuit, forced much of the second and third hours to mostly be run behind the safety car. The team managers considered ending the race early but, while they were meeting, the weather cleared up and the sun came out. The cars continued racing and, although the rain stopped, the track remained very slippery for the remainder of the race

Pescarolo Sports's challenge ended early when Jean-Christophe Boullion spun turning on to the Hanger Straight and damaged the back of the car. The rear was repaired during a lengthy pitstop and both Boullion and Emmanuel Collard were consistantly the fastest car of the race as they lapped away at the back of the field.

The conditions during the first part of the race slowed the pace to such an extent that it was not possible to complete the full 1000km and the race was brought to an end at 10pm local time after 776km.

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Series European Le Mans
Drivers Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Nicolas Minassian , Emmanuel Collard , Vanina Ickx , Stéphane Ortelli , Jean-Christophe Boullion , Joao Barbosa , Martin Short , Jens Moller