Bizarre First Race for Le Mans Series
The first race of the Le Mans Sportscar series had a bizarre ending in Istanbul on Sunday when the Stewards had to call a halt to the planned 1000 km race after 4 hours and only 700km because there was insufficient fuel to run for the full distance. The organizers, who supply the same fuel to all the teams had "miscalculated" the requirement and found themselves 8,000 litres short.
Tim Sugden had only driven his new Virgo Ferrari 430 at a Donington shakedown test before the weekend but continued his enthusiasm for the car in official practice when he placed the car second, fourth and first on the time sheets of the three sessions. Official qualifying was a slightly damp session and no experience with new car in the wet meant that they were not quite right with the settings and qualified 3rd of the 16 runners in GT2.
The race itself also started after a rain shower and choice of tyres varied throughout the field in all 4 classes with some cars on slicks, some on intermediates and some even on wets. The Virgo team chose slicks but Ian Khan who took the first stint found them difficult and dropped the car back to last in class before getting some heat into the tyres and climbing a few places. Tim took the second stint and proceeded to lap very quickly setting fastest lap of the race as he climbed more places to 8th before handing to the team's third driver, Dan Eagling.
More place gains were possible but the early end to the race stopped Tim having a second run and 8th place was all they could manage. Consolation for the team was that Tim's fastest lap was 0.453 seconds quicker than the next fastest, the works backed Porsche driven by his team mate from 2004/5, Mark Lieb, 0.625 quicker than the winning Ferrari 430 and 1.5 seconds quicker than the third placed Panoz A clean run at the next race in Spa on May 14th should see a good result as they obviously have the pace to win.