1-2 FOR PEUGEOT AT HISTORIC MIL MILHAS
For the teams and drivers who made the special effort to compete in the final race of the 2007 Le Mans Series, the historic Mil Milhas, their effort was rewarded with a fantastic event on a legendary circuit.
The sight of the Le Mans Series GT and Prototype cars once again racing into the night, including the Pescarolo, Pierre Bruneau and Peugeot, evoked memories of Le Mans in June.
With second place behind their teammates Nicolas Minassian and Marc Gene, Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy were rewarded with the drivers' title, and Peugeot the teams' title by just 3.5 points from Pescarolo Sport. It is the first time that a diesel car has won the Le Mans Series title. "We started in January with a completely new car and the team have made it a reliable and a fast car," said Sarrazin who, with Lamy, has won three times this season.
Minassian and Gene won the 27th edition of the Mil Milhas Brazil for Peugeot, the pair's third win this year and they finished third in the drivers' standings behind their team-mates, and Pescarolo's Jean-Christophe Boullion.
The pair had a comfortable race, which went to the full 1000-mile distance in less than nine hours having run at an impressive pace in mostly dry conditions. Just one safety car period, when Pierre Bruneau's Pilbeam refused to turn through Turn 1 in the eighth hour, interrupted Peugeot's run to an historic win.
Minassian and Gene ran to a safe fuel strategy and took victory by 12 laps. Pescarolo's challenge for the title was a valiant effort by the team, but a broken wishbone early in the second hour put paid to their chances.
Lamy had a scare as early as the pace lap when his Peugeot 908 HDI FAP failed to get away from the dummy grid cleanly, and the pole sitter watched the entire field pass him as he sat on the front row. A problem with the clutch master cylinder was rectified before the field came round to start the race, but it was an early sign of what was to come. In the fifth hour the car lost four laps with a light problem, and lost further time when the team made a precautionary stop to check the source of sparks which lit up the track in the dark.
Finishing on the Le Mans Series podium for the first time this year was the Creation of Jamie Campbell- Walter, Felipe Ortiz and Stuart Hall. The team was worried early in the race by high water temperatures, and a spin by Ortiz after contact with a GT2 Porsche, but it was an otherwise faultless event for the little British team which made the trip having contested the final two races of the American Le Mans Series.
Michael Vergers, Karim Ojjeh and Juan Barazi took class victory in their Gulf-liveried Zytek, their second successive win in the series and their third podium of the year.
The battle raged between the Zytek and the Embassy Racing Radical for much of the race, but was ultimately decided by a broken rear wishbone which put Warren Hughes's Embassy car into the gravel in the sixth hour.
"We were not up against the slouches of the class," joked Barazi after the race. "It was a long race and we wanted to drive it at a chilled pace, but they didn't let us."
For the Embassy team, the suspension failure lost them any chance of challenging for the win.
"We would have liked to have finished on the podium on merit with speed an reliability," said Hughes, who shared the car with Darren Manning and Mario Haberfeld. "We had a good race with the Zytek, we have a new car coming next year and with Darren and Mario we make a formidable lineup, so I hope we can all be together next year."
Pierre Bruneau's Pilbeam had a disappointing race after making a big effort to get to the Brazilian event. The car did not fire in time to take the start and though it did get going quickly, a long stop to repair bodywork preceded the accident in the eighth hour with Bruneau at the wheel.
The battle between Aston Martin and Ferrari continued in Brazil. In the end, a gear selection problem cost the Corvette its six lap lead over the Aston Martin and left Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Patrice Goueslard to take second.
Roland Berville, Gregor Fisken, Steve Zacchia and Fernando Rees took a clear win after almost nine hours of racing.
"Our car was very good, fast and we just had some bad luck with the gearbox, but this is racing," said Beretta.
Marc Lieb, Xavier Pompidou and Marc Basseng finished a successful season for the Felbermayr Proton team by taking their third victory of the year.
The three drivers had a relatively problem-free race; their only scare came when Basseng challenged the James Watt Automotive Porsche of Danish driver Allan Simonsen for the lead midrace and the two collided, damaging the front of the Felbermayr Proton car.
"It has been a successful year -- I have won two 24 hour races for Porsche and three 1000km races, but unfortunately this time we didn't take the Le Mans Series title," said Lieb.
The battle for second place raged between the two JMB Ferraris with the newly-crowned champion Rob Bell taking third place in the car shared with Ben Aucott and Philipp Peter, behind the sister car of Alexandre Funari Negrao, Alexandre Sarnes Negrao and Andreas Mattheis.
"We have had a good race in GT2, a tough fight particularly between Ferrari and Porsche this year," said Bell. "The three of us really enjoyed the circuit and we are happy to be here."