Gene, Peugeot in control at Spa

With four hours complete, the No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP of Marc Gene leads at Spa-Francorchamps, and only 40 laps remain in the 1000-km Le Mans Series race. After taking over controls of the diesel-powered machine from Jacques...

With four hours complete, the No. 7 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP of Marc Gene leads at Spa-Francorchamps, and only 40 laps remain in the 1000-km Le Mans Series race. After taking over controls of the diesel-powered machine from Jacques Villeneuve, Gene has kept the French entry out in front ahead of No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI of Mike Rockenfeller, who runs 30 seconds behind in second.

"We should do one more stop now," said Team Peugeot team manager Serge Saulnier. "I think the No. 2 will also do one more stop. If everything goes well, there is no reason we won't finish the race without problems."

Rockenfeller's teammate, Dindo Capello in the No. 1 machine, has not been as lucky. The Italian rejoined three laps down after repairs were made to the right-rear section of the Audi following the incident involving the No. 7 Peugeot of Alexander Wurz and a GT2 class Spyker in the third hour. As Capello began to climb up the leaderboard, he received a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for exiting the pits under the red during a previous caution. This put the No. 1 car one lap further back, now ninth overall and unlikely to get on the LM P1 podium.

One team that's taken advantage of the misfortunes of the No. 7 Peugeot and No. 1 Audi has been the Team Oreca Matmut Courage-Oreca LC70 Judd of Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre. The French outfit runs in a solid third and only two laps back from the leading diesel machines. One of those laps was lost at the start of the race when Lapierre started from the pit lane and fell back a lap because of a delayed race start.

Pescarolo Sport's two Judd-powered P1 entries have also enjoyed a solid run, running in fourth and fifth overall. However, a few other gasoline-fueled entries have struck trouble, including the Charouz Racing Systems Lola B06/60 Aston Martin. The Czech team has had electronic issues all race long and is out of contention for a good finish. Rollcentre Racing's hopes have also been dashed following a crash by Vannia Ickx, while Creation AIM's race have been struck with starter motor gremlins.

Xavier Pompidou in the Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola B08/80 Judd leads the way in LM P2, after the Horag Racing Porsche RS Spyder pitted while leading. Didier Theys handed his Lista Office-sponsored car back over to Jan Lammers, who started the car. The Swiss Porsche now runs third in class, eighth overall.

"We're very pleased especially with the balance of the car," Theys said after his stint. "The last five or six laps were very slippery with my tires on two stints, but I think the grip of the track is very good."

Jos Verstappen, now back in the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche is in second, one lap back on the leading Lola Coupe.

In LM GT1, Roman Rusinov in the IPB Spartak Racing Lamborghini took control of the race during the middle two hours, but has since run into problems in the closing laps. A prototype made contact with the Murcielago R-GT, causing the front hood to fly up into the windshield. Rusinov limped back to the pits for repairs, but lost the lead after an impressive run up front.

"I was already in the corner, and he just hit me," an irate Rusinov said after climbing from the car. "He [expletive] up our race."

The incident gave the No. 72 Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R of Guillaume Moreau the class lead, with Peter Kox, now in the Lamborghini, holding onto second. The Team Modena Aston Martin DBR9 of Antonio Garcia runs in third, one lap back.

Virgo Motorsport's Gianmaria Bruni leads LM GT2, with the No. 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche and No. 90 Farnbacher Racing Ferrari running second and third in class.

With four hours complete and only 40 laps remaining, the 1000-km race will likely finish well before the six-hour time limit.

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Jan Lammers , Jos Verstappen , Jacques Villeneuve , Gianmaria Bruni , Antonio Garcia , Didier Theys , Alexander Wurz , Peter Kox , Luc Alphand , Xavier Pompidou , Nicolas Lapierre , Mike Rockenfeller , Roman Rusinov , Guillaume Moreau , Dindo Capello
Teams Audi Sport Team Joest