Gene and Minassian win at Silverstone

The No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 of Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian dominated the LMP1 class in the 1000km of Silverstone, round five of the Le Mans Series. Gene started in pole position and pulled out a large lead in the early laps, then...

The No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 of Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian dominated the LMP1 class in the 1000km of Silverstone, round five of the Le Mans Series. Gene started in pole position and pulled out a large lead in the early laps, then Minassian held on to give the car its second win of the season.

The No. 16 Pescarolo Sport of Jean-Christophe Boullion and Emmanuel Collard started in sixth place but gradually moved up through the field, with the help of a strong stint mid-race, to run as high as second place and, after late challenges from the No. 15 Charouz Racing Zytek of Stefan Mucke and Jan Charouz and the No. 8 Peugeot car of Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin, reclaimed second place.

Pescarolo completed the podium with the No. 18 Rollcentre Racing Pescarolo Judd of Joao Barbosa, Stuart Hall and Martin Short. The car started in eighth place and ran strongly throughout the race, benefiting from late problems to other cars to move up to third in the final few laps.

The sister No. 8 Peugeot of Lamy and Sarrazin started second but slowly dropped back as the pace of the No. 7 car was consistently faster. Lamy picked up a left-rear puncture along the Hanger Straight on lap 112 and had to tour over half way round the circuit on three wheels, which put the car down in fifth place before recovering to second, and then a late pitstop to repair damage demoted the car to fifth.

The No. 15 Charouz Racing Zytek of Stefan Mucke and Jan Charouz ran in a strong third place at the start of the race, with Mucke running at a similar pace to Gene. Charouz ran in second place during the closing stages while under immense pressure from Boullion, before being passed by both Boullion and Lamy, and then ran off the circuit on lap 184 with a steering problem.

The Safety Car made an early appearance on lap 13 to allow signage at Maggots to be refastened, and this twenty-minute delay allowed the field to bunch up. Gene, however, put on a blistering pace at the restart to pull out a fifteen-second lead after just four laps to rebuild the comfortable cushion over Sarrazin.

There was a second Safety Car late in the race with the No. 12 Courage Competition of Alexander Frei spinning off the circuit at Luffield on lap 126 and stopping in a dangerous position. The car had run consistently in the top six, although the pace in the early laps was variable, and had run as high as third.

Collard and Mucke, in second and third respectively, pitted at the same time on lap 164 and Mucke was fractionally quicker allowing him to rejoin just in front of Collard. The pair fought intensely with Collard all over the back of Mucke as the pair weaved past traffic in almost every corner. Collard finally squeezed past, with brakes locked and cars touching, at Brooklands on lap 178 to take second place.

The No. 32 Barazi Epsilon of Karim Ojjeh, Michael Vergers and Juan Barazi won the LMP2 class after several changes of lead in the first half of the race.

Danny Watts started in LMP2 pole position in the No. 46 Team LNT Zytek, and fourth place overall, and held on to the position. Watts put Mucke under a huge amount of pressure until he pitted on lap 15 with an alternator problem, remaining in the pits for eleven minutes and dropping out of contention.

The No. 25 RML MG Lola of Thomas Erdos started in second place but fell back behind the No. 40 Quifel ASM Team Lola of Miguel Angel de Castro on lap nine. De Castro had a moment on lap 67 when he encountered a spinning No. 79 Felbermayr-Proton of Gerold Reid and No. 98 Ice Pol Racing Team Ferrari F30 of Christian Lefort at Brooklands, and spun himself in avoidance. He was able to rejoin quickly but the incident handed the lead to the No. 45 Embassy Racing Radical SR9 of Darren Manning.

Manning then pitted and handed the lead to Michael Vergers in the No. 32 Barazi Epsilon Zytek, and Vergers began to push extremely hard to build out a large lead. Warren Hughes in the No. 45 Embassy Racing Radical responded with a series of fast laps but spun off into the gravel on lap 171 and then had a long pitstop.

The No. 55 Team Oreca Saleen of Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari won the LMGT1 class after an intense battle on the track.

The No. 59 Team Modena Aston Martin DB9 of Antonio Garcia started in pole and pulled away from the No. 55 Team Oreca Saleen of Stephane Ortelli, while behind Oliver Gavin in the No. 72 Alphand Aventures Corvette took third place from the No. 50 AMR Larbre Aston Martin DB9 of Christophe Bouchut at Copse Corner on lap 6.

Garcia dropped down to fourth place during the Safety Car period but dived past Ortelli at the restart to take the lead of the class, while Bouchut stopped for a driver change to Fabrizio Gollin during a fast pitstop that put the car in the lead.

Turner took over the wheel of the No. 59 Team Modena car and quickly closed in on the leader Gollin in the No. 50 AMR Larbre Aston Martin, before diving inside at Stowe on lap 70 to take the lead of the class. Gollin remained in touch and consistently stayed within one second of Turner for the next five laps before slowly dropping back.

Gollin, however, spun off the circuit on lap 108 at Brooklands and had to be pulled out of the gravel. He returned to the track with gravel pouring out of the back of the car and went straight into the pits to hand over to Gabriele Gardel.

Second-placed Ortelli started putting on the pressure and after a series of fast laps closed up on the leader Turner on lap 137, and made a brave move down the inside of Priory, with all four wheels on the grass, to take the lead and quickly pull away.

The No. 96 Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GT of Rob Bell and Gianmaria Bruni won LMGT2 class after leading for much of the race.

Bell kept the lead at the start and quickly pulled out a large gap over the No. 76 Imsa Performance Porsche 997 of Richard Lietz. The No. 83 GPC Sport Ferrari F430 of Johnny Mowlem got past the No. 94 Speedy Racing Team Spyker C8 of Andrea Chiesa to move up to fourth position on lap three.

The No. 77 Felbermayr-Proton of Marc Lieb moved to the front the class during the Safety Car period but Bell took the place back on lap 19, with Lietz challenging Lieb closely for second place. Lieb pitted on lap 28 for a driver change and handed over to Xavier Pompidou who rejoined in third place.

Gianmaria Bruni took over at the wheel of the No. 96 Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GT and by lap 77 had managed to pull out almost a lap over the chasing No. 76 of Raymond Narac, with Marc Lieb a further 30 seconds behind in third.

The No. 76 car picked up a stop-and-go penalty while at the hands of Lietz on lap 127 but remained in second place. The No. 77 of Lieb started coasting on lap 156 with the entire left rear wheel missing from the car, promoting the No. 85 Spyker Squadron C8 of Mike Hezemans to third.

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Series ELMS