Jarama: the final countdown!
The fifth and final race of the season for competitors in the Le Mans Series is upon us and one thing is certain, we are not watching a final just for the sake of it. The suspense will be high at Jamara with the excitement in Madrid running through the teams! For if the "LM"P1 and "LM"GT2 titles have already been resolved, those of the "LM"P2 and "LM"GT1 are more than ever uncertain, with the 2nd and 3rd steps of the podium far from being decided in advance. Indeed 2nd place will be highly coveted - carrying automatic entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and remains to be decided in all categories.
Pescarolo aims for the Grand Slam
On a magnificent course with plenty of new redevelopments, Emmanuel Collard and Jean- Christophe Boullion, helped at Donington by Didier Andre, repeated their achievement of winning the team and individual titles in "LM"P1 for the second year running.
Henri Pescarolo already conceded that it would not be easy to defeat the English on their own ground.
"It will be important to be wary of the Zytek and the Creations", he declared moments before the start. Henri was right.
The 1000km at Donnigton had not been a walk in the park for the Le Mans-based team. Firstly it was Jean-Marc Gounon in the Creation LC70 of the Creation Competition team who caused difficulties for Boullion on the second row of the grid between the Zytek of Hideki Noda and the Creation driven by Jamie Campbell-Walter. On pole for the fourth time in the Le Mans Series, the Frenchman had made history and knew how to make the most of his advantage, at least during the first half hour of the race. Alas the tyres did not share the aspirations of Gounon, who had to resign himself to dropping back through the field bit by bit, soon allowing the Creations of Campbell-Walter and Minassian to pass, as well as the Swiss Spirit team's Courage driven by Marcel Fassler.
The competition was fierce throughout the 1000km. Courage, Creation, Zytek and even the Radical of Rollcentre Racing, had led for periods of the race. But Pescarolo Sport finally started to break away, despite two penalties at the beginning of the race. Taking advantage of the Creations' need to change tyres at each refuelling, Henri's team soon registered their fourth consecutive victory of the season.
Still, Jarama will not simply be a formality for the French team. The goal now it to ensure a perfect season, winning the remaining fifth races to complete the first ever Grand Slam in the history of the Le Mans Series, as although Audi won all the races in 2004 it was with two cars, not one.
The Competition is still fierce in "LM" P1
The other teams are not giving up on the chase, and they all know that the competition for the series win is not over. Just to remind those who had forgotten the first two teams in each category will automatically qualify for the following years Le Mans 24 Hours race.
In "LM"P1, Chamberlain Synergy Motorsport, Creation Autosportif and Swiss Spirit can all claim second place on the final podium. A gap of only 4 points separates the four, leaving anything possible.
Creation, after its second and third places at Donington, can pride themselves on having progressed without slowing throughout the season. For the final, Ian Bickerton's team will only enter one car - the second competing in the Petit Le Mans in the American Le Mans Series a week later -- resting their hopes on it to not only make the podium, but also automatic selection for the 24 Hours race in 2007.
Everything to play for in the "LM" P2
Will the team RML's Lola be on pole for the fifth time this season? That's the major question. Whatever happens, one can imagine that Ray Mallock's team has got a taste for the pleasures of first place on the podium after Donington. So doubtless Tommy Erdos and Mike Newton will do everything they can to get themselves up there for a second time this season to clinch the title in their category.
It's clear that Martin Short will see the Jarama round as a chance to take revenge after the bad luck he had in England. It was an enormous disappointment at Donington, when with just a few laps remaining, the Radical Judd from his Rollcentre Racing team refused to restart after a pit stop. Verdict without appeal: a car which does not pass under the chequered flag cannot be classified. To end the race in this manner was even more disappointing for Martin Short and Joao Barbosa in that the Portuguese man had held the "LM"P2 lead for a time behind the wheel. Let's hope that the Spanish track will be more favourable to this team and that their season will end on a more positive note.
Be that as it may, the overall standings in this category are extremely tight coming into this final round, and the top three (RML, Barazi-Epsilon and Binnie Motorsports) are separated by just six points! Pierre Bruneau, happy with a second place at Donington to go with his second in Istanbul, understands that repeating his performance, and why shouldn't he, will give him the points to be on the final podium for the season.
Pressure on in "LM" GT1
Three teams. one point separating them. Unquestionably, there will be one left out at the end of the 1000km at Jarama, with only the first two ensuring automatic selection to Le Mans in June 2007...
Luc Alphand Aventures, Aston Martin Racing Larbre and Convers Menx Team are therefore focussed more than ever on winning. Knowing the extent to which the "LM"GT1 was contested right until the final moment in England, you can't wait to see the battle commence on Spanish soil. The Alphand- Goueslard-Policand trio, which had to put up with letting first place slip to the Modena Team's Aston Martin DBR9 in the penultimate lap after brake failure, will be more determined than ever to be on the podium and perhaps even take the title in their category.
Hughes de Chaunac's Oreca team, disappointed by their race at Donington where they had problems holding the road and more seriously with the engine, will not want to end the season by not finishing. The Ortelli/Ayari duo, sitting in third at the moment (behind both the ex- æquo Aston Martin Racing and Convers Menx Team) will be very keen to end the season how they began it, by seeing a repeat of what they achieved in Belgium where they won the 1000km of Spa.
Autorlando, the "Pescarolo" of "LM" GT2
The Porsche 996 GT3RSR from the Autorlando Sport team has already shown its superiority, right to the end of a beautiful season. With a victory at Spa and second places at three other circuits, the "LM"GT2 title has not escaped Marc Lieb and Joel Camathias.
On the other hand, with second place there is everything to play for: only 2 points separate Team LNT, IMSA Performance Matmut, Virgo Motorsport and GPC Sport (who would have certainly won in England had it not been for a collision with the Pro Tran one hour before the end of the race). So who will be on the podium at Jarama? Who will be part of the winning three of the "LM" GT2 at the end of the season? Who will have the doors to the Le Mans 2007 automatically opened to them? The suspense is huge, the answers on the 24th September on Spanish soil.
New Blood in "LM" P1
Giovanni Lavaggi is reviving the myth of the driver-manufacturer.
The Italian, who introduced his Lavaggi LS1 at the Nürburgring 1000km, will certainly enter his "LM"P1 at Jarama.
Let's wish him all the success which his fantastic project deserves.
-credit: le mans series