Convers Team earns Le Mans entry

The Convers Team came away from the final race of the 2005 Le Mans Endurance Series in Turkey disappointed not to have taken victory and the teams' and drivers' titles, but satisfied that it had done enough to win an automatic place on the grid for the 2006 Le Mans 24-hours.

Christophe Bouchut, Alexey Vasiliev and Darren Turner struggled for grip in their Care Racing prepared Ferrari 550 Maranello as torrid conditions hit the Turkish circuit periodically throughout the six- hour race. Bouchut initially led, but lost a lap to the leaders when he pitted just as the safety car took to the track following an accident.

The team fought back, but was unable to make up the lost time. "For me, we wanted to win the championship," said Cirtek team owner Rob Schirle. "Le Mans is very important and we got an entry so we have half achieved what we set out to do at the start of the year. We now have to come back to this series next year to win the title. Overall in the race, it is disappointing to go out when we were so competitive all year. Christophe was fantastic at the start, we thought we were in with a chance, but then the safety car came out and we lost a lap and were never able to regain that."

Alexey Vasiliev drove for an hour of the race, but found the conditions to be difficult. "I like wet weather, but I cope better with a softer car in these conditions," said the Russian. "At all corners I lost time, and it is not possible to win like this."

Darren Turner, returning to the Ferrari for the first time since Le Mans in 2004, added: "I was pleased with my first stint. We didn't have a lap time on the dashboard, so I was going to the radio to get the pace. The car was good, I was confident, not making mistakes. Towards the end it started to rain heavily and I had a moment at turn 8 and went a bit wide. Then I had a massive 720 degree spin - I never had one in my career before - but I collected it together, and lost about five seconds. We had another set of tyres for my second stint, and on them we were just slow. After half a stint they called me in."

Conversbank Chairman Vladimir Antonov watched the final race of the 2005 LMES from the pit lane, and commented: "We are coming to Le Mans Series again next year, with two cars. I believe it will be great racing next season. It was an inconvenience for us this year because we have to be first, but we had some problems which meant that we were not first. I believe that next season will be better."