Team ORECA-Matmut: Precious points... Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Sarrazin were firmly installed in the lead at half distance: they finally finished fourth. Despite a mechanical problem, the team did not throw in the towel and...
Team ORECA-Matmut: Precious points...
Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Sarrazin were firmly installed in the lead at half distance: they finally finished fourth. Despite a mechanical problem, the team did not throw in the towel and it scored some precious points. Sarrazin and the Team ORECA-Matmut lead their respective championships..
After their victory in the Portimao 1000 kms, the Team ORECA-Matmut's aim in the Hungaroring 1000 kms was a double one: a second victory in the race, and the lead in the drivers' and teams' championships before the final round of the Le Mans Series on the Silverstone circuit. Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Sarrazin led the race for a long time, and they saw the cheqsuered flag in fourth place in LM P1 after suffering transmission problems. Works driver, Sarrazin, now leads the drivers' championship and the French squad is lying first in the teams' ratings. The outcome will be decided at Silverstone where the Team ORECA-Matmut and the Peugeot-Total team will battle for the two titles, as well as the manufacturers' crown.
Sarrazin, who was fourth on the grid, made a great start. He drew level with the two Lola- Rebellions, and managed to split them by going round the outside in the first corner. The Frenchman finished his stint in second place, a few seconds behind the leader. Thanks to good pit work the Team ORECA-Matmut Peugeot rejoined in first place, and Sarrazin opened up a gap.
Lapierre took over. He was the quickest man on the track, and after various problems hit the other teams his nearest rival was over three laps behind at half distance. Then after 120 laps, no.4 had to come in due to a transmission problem. It rejoined after a stop that cost it forty minutes and saw the flag in fourth place in the LM P1 category..
Hugues de Chaunac, the ORECA Group President: "Obviously, it's a disappointment. The team had a great first half to the race. We knew that traffic would be a problem, and that there would be many collisions, but we really weren't expecting reliability glitches. Stephane made a great start and we quickly got into the groove, which gave us a solid lead at half distance. After analyzing the problem we rejoined and saw the chequered flag scoring scored precious points.
Stephane leads the drivers' classification and the Team ORECA-Matmut heads the teams' ratings. We're now turning our attention to Silverstone where our aim will be to win. In England, Olivier won't be with us due to a clash of dates with the FFSA-GT Championship. It was foreseen at the start of the year and he won't be replaced."
Olivier Panis, no.4 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: "Budapest was my last race this season with the Team ORECA-Matmut. I was hoping to finish on a high note, but that's how it goes. The team's prepared like never before for this season and it hasn't made any mistakes. This type of event is frustrating for us drivers, and also for all the guys in the team. That's another reason why I'm disappointed. I hope that the team will manage to win the title so that all the efforts they've invested this year will be rewarded."
Nicolas Lapierre, no.4 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: "This was a race that we clearly could have won. The start wasn't easy but we managed to stay out of trouble. We were really in the right rhythm and we avoided all the pitfalls caused by the traffic. We were not the quickest in qualifying but we were the fastest in the race. The team's efficiency during refuelling stops was remarkable, which is a positive point before Silverstone where the battle with Audi will be tough."
Stephane Sarrazin, no.4 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP: "The team put in an enormous effort this weekend, exactly like in Portimao. They did a great job, especially during pit stops where the mechanics were much quicker than the rest of the field. The engineers also gave us a great car. I'm leading the championship by several points, but I want to share that position with my team-mates - Olivier and Nicolas on several occasions, and Franck Montagny at Spa. Without them I wouldn't be in first place!"