A FINAL ROUND AS A VIRTUOSO PERFORMANCE !
It was a wonderful finish for Le Mans Series. Jarama hosted an enthralling race that featured everything that people wanted to see, and proved, one more time, that the endurance spirit is a shared value in the paddock! Pescarolo Sport and Autorlando Sport were the perfect example of that by participating to the last race even though they already won the title at Donington. Competitors are passionate about the Le Mans Series, and they prove it a little more at each race.
Henri Pescarolo's team made it five wins from five races when Emmanuel Collard, Didier Andre and Jean-Christophe Boullion took a clear win in the final race of the 2006 Le Mans Series in Jarama, Spain. The main challenge came early in the race as Jean-Marc Gounon led in the second hour in his Courage before his gearbox failed, and the sister Courage Competition LC70 of Shinji Nakano and Haruki Kurosawa lost time also with a gearbox problem later in the race. The ASM Team Racing for Portugal Lola team finished a fantastic second position overall after a faultless drive from Angel Burgueno, Miguel de Castro and Miguel Amaral. By finishing in fourth place, the Barazi Espilon team took the "LM" P2 title ahead of the RML team. They suffered a heart break when their engine seized just six minutes from the end of the six-hour race while running second. In the "LM"GT1 class, the ORECA Saleen team won the race, and moved to third position in the competition with Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari. By finishing second in the class, the Larbre Competition Aston Martin team took the teams' title, and its drivers Pedro Lamy, Gabriele Gardel and Vincent Vosse won the drivers' accolade. The "LM"GT2 title was already decided before the final race but the battle has been rude behind . The Ferrari of GPC Sport has been disqualified as Fabrizio de Simone drove more than the authorised limit.
"LM"P1: TITLE WINNER = PESCAROLO SPORT
Five wins from five races gave the Pescarolo team maximum points in the Le Mans Series, but behind the battle for second position raged between the Chamberlain Synergy team, Creation and Swiss Spirit. Just three points separated them going into the final race. The Swiss Spirit Courage, driven by Marcel Fassler and Harold Primat, lost first and second gears, and had a problem with the starter motor yet still finished third overall, but was not enough for them to move ahead of Creation and Chamberlain in the points. The two British teams finished level on points, but Creation are classed second courtesy of a second place at the Nurburgring in July. Nicolas Minassian, Felipe Ortiz and Beppe Gabbiani suffered a lack of grip in Spain, lost first, second and third gears, and had a fuel pick-up problem which meant they could do no better than fourth.
"LM"P2: TITLE WINNER = BARAZI - EPSILON
The British RML team had a heartbreaking final race to the Le Mans Series when the "LM" P2 leaders were on course to win the title by finishing second in class, but Brazilian driver Tommy Erdos pulled to the side of the road with a seized engine just six minutes from the end of the race. By finishing fourth, the Barazi Espilon team took the title by two points from RML, though both will earn an automatic entry into next year's Le Mans 24-hours due to their positions in the championship. The Kruse Motorsport team took second position in the class, 14 laps down on the winners from ASM Team Racing for Portugal. "Three wins from three races, and we were leading in Donington when the engine failed, we are doing a very good job," said de Castro. The challenge from the Rollcentre Radical team got off to a bad start when Joao Barbosa got a puncture soon after the start and was forced to pit early. He recovered to run in the top five after just two hours of racing. Rob Barff took over the driving, but crashed on his first lap, damaging the front of the Radical, and later during his stint, he pulled to the side of the road when the engine died. An early challenger for the race win was the Bruichladdich Radical, but Stuart Moseley pulled to the side of the road after just 40 minutes with an overheating engine caused by debris from the circuit. The Binnie Motorsports Lola stopped on four hours when it ran out of brakes.
"LM"GT1: TITLE WINNER = ASTON MARTIN RACING LARBRE
The ORECA Saleen team took a well earned victory in the final race of the season, their second win of the year after two mechanical failures robbed them of wins at the Nurburgring and at Donington. Stephane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari did not make any mistakes as they raced to victory by a lap over the Larbre Competition Aston Martin. By finishing second, Pedro Lamy, Gabriele Gardel and Vincent Vosse won the drivers' title, and Larbre the teams' title. Team Modena driver Antonio Garcia was one of nine drivers with a chance of winning the drivers' title before the race, but he started from the back of the grid following an infringement with the rear wing endplate during qualifying. He made his way through the pack and was shadowing the Ferrari of Peter Kox, but the Team Modena Aston Martin was caught out by two safety car periods, losing a lap each time. He finished third in the drivers' standings. The team Convers Menx Ferrari ran strongly, but both Robert Pergl and Alexey Vasiliev suffered spins and dropped to fourth at the chequered flag. The team was classified second, and won an automatic entry to next year's Le Mans 24-hours. There were tears in the Luc Alphand pit after Jerome Policand crashed the Corvette that had led the competition heading into the final race. "Patrice touched a Ferrari and bent the steering," said the Frenchman. "I tried to carry on and the car was still fast. I crossed my fingers that we would make the finish but then the steering rack broke in a left hander and I went straight on."
"LM"GT2: TITLE WINNER = AUTORLANDO SPORT
Even if the title was already assured for the Autorlando Sport n°76, the battle in the class was really rude at Jarama. The second Autorlando Sport Porsche 996 finished the race on the second step of the podium, just behind the Team LNT driven by Robert Bell and Warren Hugues. Third step was taken by the Spyker C8 Spyder GT2R. Fabrizio de Simone drove a too long time and the GPC Sport Ferrari 430 GT was finally disqualified.
Now that the season is over, we can look back on a successful 2006 Le Mans Series which can be measured against the best car racing in the world after only three seasons. The Le Mans Series has strengthened, and is getting stronger race by race. As the 2006 season been full of surprises and suspense, the 2007 one is looking really exceptional, with the arrival of new competitors joining those already established in the Series. The Le Mans Series stands by the Le Mans spirit and intends to follow the trend of technological evolution and new energy research, as it has for these past three years.