Nurburgring: Michelin race report

A hat-trick for Pescarolo Sport and Michelin Round 3 of the 2006 Le Mans Series, the Nurburgring 1,000km, was won by Pescarolo- Michelin's Emmanuel Collard, Jean-Christophe Boullion and Eric Helary ahead of Minnassian/Ortiz/Gabbiani...

A hat-trick for Pescarolo Sport and Michelin

Round 3 of the 2006 Le Mans Series, the Nurburgring 1,000km, was won by Pescarolo- Michelin's Emmanuel Collard, Jean-Christophe Boullion and Eric Helary ahead of Minnassian/Ortiz/Gabbiani (Creation Autosportif). In addition to claiming the top two places overall, Michelin runners also monopolised the LMGT1 podium this afternoon in Germany.

Victories in Istanbul, at Spa-Francorchamps and, this afternoon, at the Nurburgring in Germany's Eiffel Mountains have enabled Pescarolo Sport to emerge as the dominant force in this year's Le Mans Series. Its score of three wins from the first three rounds has put the French outfit in a strong position to retain the title it won in the inaugural LMS in 2005.

At the wheel of their Judd-powered Pescarolo C60-Michelin, Collard, Boullion and Helary went practically unchallenged from start to finish. As at Spa two months ago, the Courage of Gounon/Frei/Fisken kept up the pressure during the early part of the race before progressively losing ground and, at half-distance, the Pescarolo-Michelin crew enjoyed a two-lap lead over the Swiss Spirit Courage-Michelin (Primat/Fassler), which finished 2nd in Belgium last May, before it too was delayed by an anti-roll bar failure.

Running three laps behind the Pescarolo-Michelin, which succeeded in double-stinting, the Lammers/Yoong Dome and the Creation-Michelin of Minassian/Ortiz/Gabbiani kept spectators on their toes in the closing stages: with only minutes remaining before the chequered flag, Nicolas Minassian managed to find a way past the Racing For Holland car to snatch 2nd place by a mere 5 seconds!

The racing was also extremely close in LMP2, although the Newton/Erdos MG Lola-Michelin, which won the category in June's Le Mans 24 hours, was unfortunately slowed by brake problems and finished just off the podium. In the end, Michelin's honour was saved by the Binnie Motorsports Lola-Michelin driven by Binnie/Timpany/Hancock which finished 2nd behind the ASM Racing Portugal Lola (Amaral/Angel de Castro/Burgeno) and ahead of the Short/Barbosa Radical.

In LMGT1, the Oreca-run Saleen of Ayari/Ortelli, surprise winner at Spa, dominated the first half of the race before its starter motor failed after overheating while running behind the safety car. The incident left the Aston Martin-Michelin of Lamy/Gardel/Vosse in front ahead of the Corvette-Michelin of Alphand/Policand/Goueslard and the Ferrari-Michelin of Kox/Pergl/Vasiliev, with the latter two cars split by just 10 seconds. Towards the end of the race, the Aston Martin had to make one last stop for a driver change but still succeeded in holding on to top spot to finish 10 seconds clear of the Alphand Aventures Corvette C5.R which is looking stronger and stronger after coming close to a podium finish in Belgium. Will it succeed in going one place better next month at Donington?

Gerard Bombled, Michelin's Touring Car and FIA GT Programme Manager: It was very hot today in Germany with ground temperatures peaking at 44C in the course of the afternoon, but we didn't have any problems with our tyres. All our LMP1 partners double-stinted with the exception of the Zytek O6S of Johansson/Noda which tripled-stinted. It even posted a time of 1m 48s after 94 laps (i.e. 483km) on the same tyres. There was also double-stinting in LMP2, while in LMGT1, some of our teams chose to double- stint while others, like Alphand Aventures, opted for a soft compound and fresh rubber every time its car pitted."

Next round: Donington 1,000km (August 26-27)

-michelin

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Series ELMS